Knowing that today’s stage was the last chance for the opportunistic riders to shine in the race, it was no surprise to see countless attacks during the first part of the stage. It took nearly an hour of hard racing before a group of 20 riders finally managed to distance the peloton.
Boasson Hagen had been very attentive near the front, covering the most dangerous moves. In theory, the fast Norwegian didn’t have to attack, as he would be one of the favorites in a bunch sprint. However, when the big group went away, he was quick to follow, which proved to be a very good decision.
The breakaway worked well together and as the peloton seemed satisfied with the situation, the gap quickly grew to over seven minutes. As the front group took on the last 40 km of the stage, the riders started attacking each other. Ultimately, nine riders - including Boasson Hagen - got away. The new front group kept splitting up but only for a limited time as it always came back together again.
With about three kilometers left to go, Boasson Hagen was smart and took the right way around in a roundabout while the other riders went left. This opened up a small gap. Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) originally followed Boasson Hagen but he couldn’t keep up with the Norwegian time trial champion. Boasson Hagen continued alone and he had plenty of time to celebrate and show the iconic five-fingers-salute for Qhubeka as he crossed the finishing line in Salon-de-Provence.
The peloton finished over 12 minutes down with the yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky) keeping the overall lead before tomorrow’s 22.5 km long individual time trial in Marseille.