The opening stage of the Tour of Norway ended in the expected mass sprint with Steele von Hoff (One Pro Cycling) powering to the win ahead of Phil Bauhaus (Bora Argon 18) and Yannick Martinez (Dalke Marseille Provence KTM).
The stage took in a few undulations over the 173km from Drammen to Langesund but nothing too severe and so the sprinters had a real interest in today's stage. The peloton nearly let the win slip through its fingers though as the early 5 rider break of the day was only caught with 3km to go.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka assumed responsibility for leading the chase with our Norwegian champion the overall race favourite. Our African Team riders did a sterling job to control the gap for the majority of the stage alone, with a few teams later only lending a rider each to help with the chase.
With only 5 riders at our disposable, who had already worked tirelessly throughout the day, it was difficult to control the final as we tried to set up Boasson Hagen for the final. In the end, our Norwegian star didn't have the position to challenge for the win and just rolled home with the peloton.
We had a big plan for the day, but it was very difficult as we only have 5 of 6 riders. Everyone was looking to us with Edvald and also as one of the 3 World Tour teams here, we knew it would be difficult. The team is super motivated to be here though, the weather is good and the countryside is beautiful. We knew the race would be very hard from the start and we just wanted to make sure we were happy with the composition of the break. We identified a couple of teams that might be a danger to us and made sure they didn't get away. Ourselves, Lotto-Jumbo, Drapac and later Lotto-Soudal and Caja Rural all sent a rider to pull. It was up and down all day, windy in parts as we went inland and back to the coast a few times. Adrien Niyonshuti was pulling all day, he did an amazing job keeping the 5 guys to a max of 6 minutes. It was with 30km to go that the other teams came to help. It was a super-fast downhill run to the finish but with 4km to go there was a 1km climb of 6% and we anticipated this as being a key point but the bunch held steady over the climb. Edvald wasn't able to perform his sprint but there a more stages to come and better suited to him where we want to capitalize.
Oli Cookson - Sport Director