SALON-DE-PROVENCE, France (AP) — Edvald Boasson Hagen showed that brawn and speed don’t guarantee victory at the Tour de France. Winners do their homework, too.
Going right around a roundabout while others took the left and longer route proved to be the key that enabled the Norwegian to finally win a stage at this Tour on Friday after two second-place finishes.
Only Boasson Hagen and Nikias Arndt took the shorter route. The Norwegian then eliminated the German rider with a burst of acceleration and sped to the line in Salon-de Provence.
Arndt placed second, five seconds back.
Third-placed Jens Keukeleire was among those who went left around the roundabout in the last three kilometers (under two miles) and immediately realized their mistake, as Boasson Hagen motored away.
“That’s when it struck me: We should have taken right,” Keukeleire said. “He’s one of those riders, give him 10 meters and he’s gone.”
It was Boasson Hagen’s third career stage win at the Tour, after his first two in 2011. He said he’d studied the finish and identified the short cut.
“I was hunting for opportunities, and then the roundabout arrived,” he said. “I understood that going right would be quicker.”
Riding at a leisurely pace far behind them, race leader Chris Froome and other top contenders for the yellow jersey were happy to let others contest the victory on the Tour’s longest stage.
Boasson Hagen was part of a 20-man group that Froome and Team Sky gave freedom to escape from the peloton because none of them presented a threat to his overall lead. After two energy-sapping days of climbs in the high Alps, Froome and his rivals had their sights set instead on the time trial on Saturday in Marseille that will determine the podium order before the race ends in Paris on Sunday.
Froome’s group was still riding as Boasson Hagen celebrated his win. The peloton eventually rolled in more than 12 minutes after Boasson Hagen claimed the first stage win for the Dimension Data team at this tour.
The overall standings remained unchanged at the top, with Froome leading French rider Romain Bardet…