Edvald Boasson Hagen sprinted to fifth place at the Vattenfall Cyclassics after Arnaud Démare had sealed a hard-fought victory in Germany.
Defending champion Boasson Hagen latched onto Mark Renshaw’s wheel as the 217km effort reached its conclusion, and despite rounding the Rabobank rider on the closing straight, he couldn’t haul back Démare (FDJ) as the under-23 world champion edged out André Greipel (Lotto) and Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack) in a flat-out finish at the line.
The race had taken place in sweltering conditions, with temperatures rising to a balmy 37 degrees centigrade, but that didn’t stop Team Sky being active throughout the day.
Alex Dowsett and Bernhard Eisel kept a close eye on proceedings when a three-man break went clear early on, and were still on the front when that trio was caught on the first of four ascents up the punchy Waseberg.
Jeremy Hunt and Luke Rowe then marshalled the troops as a seven-man group temporarily went up the road, and Christian Knees infiltrated a dangerous move including many of the big-name favourites inside the final 30km.
That wasn’t allowed to stick, and after numerous subsequent attacks, it was Team Sky who brought everything back together as the race reached its conclusion.
Eisel guided Boasson Hagen into contention as the peloton swept into Hamburg, but it was Démare who would take the plaudits after kicking clear early and holding off the pursuit of his higher-profile rivals.
When we caught up with Sports Director Steven de Jongh after the race, he was get pleased to have got some more WorldTour points in the bag, and pleased with the overall performance of the team.
He told us: “It was a good display and everybody did the job they had to do. Luke and Salvatore impressed me again with the way they handled themselves and they’ve come a long way in their first season as professionals.
“Christian was also really strong and Bernie led from the front. Edvald was also in the right place at the right time but just didn’t have the legs when it came down to the sprint. He and Luke were both feeling the effects of the sun after the finish so fifth in those circumstances is a decent result.
“It was great to see Geraint back in action but it’s been a while since he rode anything this long and he was spent after 180km. At that stage he did one more bottle run for the team and then called it a day.
“There’s not a great deal more to report really. There was quite a large crash at the end, and although Luke got delayed behind it, none of our guys were directly involved in it, so we’re all thankful for that and they’ll live to fight another day.”