Tour de France: Team Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen wins in the Alps

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The Independent Online

Edvald Boasson Hagen today won his and Team Sky's second stage of the 2011 Tour de France with a solo triumph in Italy.

The Norwegian made amends for his second place to compatriot Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) yesterday by winning today's 179-kilometre 17th stage from Gap to Pinerolo.

The 24-year-old from Lillehammer, who won stage six to Lisieux, attacked on the day's final climb with 11km remaining.

Boasson Hagen reached the summit of the Cote de Pramartino with a lead of fewer than 20 seconds and fearlessly negotiated the 8km descent to win from Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), who was 40 seconds behind in second, with Sandy Casar (FDJ) third, 10 seconds further back.

There are two Norwegians in the peloton and each have now won twice - Boasson Hagen emulating Hushovd's earlier successes.

Casar won a sprint ahead of fellow Frenchmen Julien El Fares (Cofidis) and Sylvain Chavanel (QuickStep), while Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) retained the race leader's yellow jersey - but only just.

Voeckler twice wobbled on the final descent, the second time entering a driveway, and finished 28th, four minutes 53 seconds behind Boasson Hagen.

The Frenchman now leads overall by 1min 18secs from Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who finished 20th today, 4:26 behind the stage winner and 27 seconds ahead of the maillot jaune rider.

Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek), was 17th, 4:26 behind alongside Evans, with Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 19th, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) 22nd and Andy Schleck 24th.

Frank Schleck now trails Voeckler by 1:22, with Andy Schleck 2:36 behind, Sanchez 2:59 adrift and defending champion Contador 3:15 behind.

Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran finished 4:34 behind his team-mate Boasson Hagen today and remained 10th in the overall standings and in possession of the best young rider's white jersey.

Tomorrow's 18th stage sees the Tour return to France from Pinerolo with the Galibier Serre-Chevalier finish at 2,645m - the highest finish in the race's history - and presents an opportunity for the overall favourites to attack once more.

Boasson Hagen was in the day's escape for a second straight day as the Tour traversed the Alps from France to Italy.

The 14 riders in the breakaway, which formed after 58km, swept up all bar one point at the day's intermediate sprint, which came after 81.5km, with Boasson Hagen taking 17 points for finishing second to Casar.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) extended his lead in the points classification by one by being the first rider across the line from the peloton, which did not contest the intermediate sprint.

Cavendish, the green jersey incumbent, rolled over the line ahead of team-mate Bernhard Eisel, to move 35 points clear of Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar).

The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man now has 320 points, with Rojas second on 285 and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) third on 250.

Up ahead, Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi) forged forward up the category one ascent to Sestrieres and led over the summit, 1:05 seconds ahead of his fellow escapees.

There was a 46km descent from the Italian ski resort before the day's final climb and Perez Moreno saw his advantage cut to 40secs at the foot of the Cote de Pramartino, a 6.7km ascent through woodland.

Chavanel attacked and surged into the lead midway up the climb, but Boasson Hagen followed.

The Norwegian attacked and went alone with 11km remaining, eight of which were the final descent into Pinerolo, which included tight corners with uneven roads and was staged through woodland - making the light difficult for the riders.

Behind them Contador attacked, leading Andy Schleck, Voeckler and others, including Evans and Ivan Basso, with him.

It was the second straight day Contador has taken the initiative on the final climb, but the acceleration achieved little.

Boasson Hagen was less than 20 seconds clear of two pursuers by the summit, as Contador again dug in to test his rivals.

Saur-Sojasun's Jonathan Hivert tumbled on the descent and Mollema was left alone to chase Boasson Hagen.

Hivert then lost control further down, entering a roadside driveway - and Voeckler took the same route a few minutes later.

Contador made another burst, seeking to eat into his rivals' advantage on the descent, as Boasson Hagen celebrated victory.

Contador followed compatriot Sanchez's wheel, but their overall rivals caught up in the finale to finish on the same time before Voeckler trudged in after his embarrassing diversion.