Boasson Hagen wins in Alps
Pinerolo - Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway won the 17th stage of the Tour de France Wednesday, the first of three in the Alps.
Thomas Voeckler held on to the yellow jersey, but lost time after riding off the course on the final descent.
In the race for the overall victory, defending champion Alberto Contador made repeated attempts to get away from his rivals, but was caught on each occasion. He finished in the same time as Cadel Evans, the Schleck brothers and Samuel Sanchez. Voeckler lost 27 seconds and is now 1 minute, 18 seconds ahead of Evans.
Boasson Hagen completed the 179kms across the Alps from Gap to the Italian town of Pinerolo in 4 hours, 18 minutes. Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands was second, 40 seconds back, with Sandy Casar of France winning the sprint for third.
It was the second victory for Sky rider Boasson Hagen and the fourth for Norway in this year's race.
It was also a form of revenge, after he was beaten into second by his compatriot Thor Hushovd on Tuesday.
"It was very difficult yesterday, and today I was able to do better," said Boasson Hagen. "I didn't want to lose this race today."
He praised the large contingent of Norwegian fans that has been supporting him and Hushovd throughout the race.
"It's really great to see all the Norwegian flags and Norwegian people around the course. It gives some extra power."
Second place went to Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands, after Frenchman Jonathan Hivert crashed on the perilous final descent of the Pramartino. Sandy Casar of France finished third, while Hivert got back on his bike and came in ninth.
Voeckler veered off the course at one point during the last descent, but didn't crash.
"It's a pity, because I saw that Contador, Evans and the Schlecks finished together. If I'd taken fewer risks, I would have finished with them," he said.
Contador was not downhearted by his failure to get away.
"I felt good, and you've got to try," he said. He didn't want to talk about the stages to come.
Evans, who becomes more of a favourite for the title with every day he keeps his advantage of nearly two minutes over Contador - as Voeckler is expected to fade - said it had been a difficult final descent.
"With shadows and stuff it was real hard to see. Voeckler ran off the road in front of me - twice I think. It makes you take things more cautiously. You don't ever want to lose time to anyone," the Australian said. "I've got a good advantage over Alberto now, but Alberto has shown in years gone by what he can do when he's really at his top."
Standings from the 17th stage of the Tour de France, a 179.0km ride from Gap to Pinerolo on Wednesday:
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/SKY) 4hr 18min 00sec (average: 41,6 km/h)
2. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) at 0:40.
3. Sandy Casar (FRA/FDJ) 0:50.
4. Julien El Fares (FRA/COF) 0:50.
5. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/QST) 0:50.
6. Dmitriy Fofonov (KAZ/AST) 1:10.
7. Maciej Paterski (POL/LIQ) 1:10.
8. Dmitry Muravyev (KAZ/RSH) 1:10.
9. Jonathan Hivert (FRA/SAU) 1:15.
10. Borut Bozic (SLO/VAC) 2:20.
11. Audrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 2:20.
12. Ruben Perez Moreno (ESP/EUS) 2:37.
13. Bjorn Leukemans (BEL/VAC) 3:35.
14. Nicolas Roche (EIR/ALM) 4:00.
15. Maartens Tjallingii (NED/RAB) 4:00.
16. Kevin De Weert (BEL/QST) 4:00.
17. Frank Schleck (LUX/LEO) 4:26.
18. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 4:26.
19. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 4:26.
20. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 4:26.
21. Jean Christophe Peraud (FRA/ALM) 4:26.
22. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 4:26.
23. Rein Taaramae (EST/COF) 4:26.
24. Andy Schleck (LUX/LEO) 4:26.
25. Jelle Vanendert (BEL/OLO) 4:26.
26. Jerome Coppel (FRA/SAU) 4:34.
27. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 4:34.
28. Thomas Voeckler (FRA/EUC) 4:53.
29. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/RSH) 4:53.
30. Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) 4:53.
31. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 4:53.
32. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GRM) 5:03.
33. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 5:03.
34. Arnold Jeannesson (FRA/FDJ) 5:40.
35. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) 5:56.
36. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 5:56.