Cycling: Swift too fast for Boasson Hagen

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Ben Swift ended race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen's sensational run in the Tour of Britain with victory in the penultimate stage yesterday.

The 21-year-old Briton held off the challenge of Team Katusha colleague Filippo Pozzato of Italy and overall leader Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia-HTC) to win a sprint to the line in Yeovil, Somerset, after the 159.7-kilometre seventh stage from Hatherleigh in Devon.

Norwegian Boasson Hagen, who will ride for Team Sky in 2010, won four successive stages in Gretna Green, Blackpool, Stoke and Bideford, and now holds a 23-second lead ahead of today's final stage, a 92.5km criterium in central London.

Swift's win was the hosts' first victory of the 2009 Tour. However, it looks unlikely that Team Sky-bound duo Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshall's Pasta) or Geraint Thomas (Barloworld), who are fifth and sixth respectively, will topple Boasson Hagen on the final day.

Swift has been linked with a move to Team Sky despite being under contract with Russian squad Team Katusha in 2010. The Rotherham rider was third in the second stage of May's Giro d'Italia behind Mark Cavendish.

Team Sky's hopes of competing in the 2010 Tour de France received a boost yesterday when the international cycling union awarded the team a four-year UCI ProTour licence. Led by British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford and backed by broadcasting giant BSkyB, Team Sky will launch in January, but require a wildcard entry to compete in cycling's most prestigious race next July.

However, the four-year UCI ProTour licence, which runs to 2013 – together with the team's fervent anti-doping policy – is likely to be looked favourably upon by Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation.

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