Thursday was a day to remember for Norway’s Edvald Boassen Hagen and Team Sky, both picking up their first-ever stage wins on the Tour de France.
It was the longest stage in this year’s race, 226 and a half kilometres long, and most of it was in the wet, with occasional hailstorms to contend with.
The pack stayed tightly bunched as breakaways came and went, a five man group keeping them at bay for quite a while.
All the race leaders stayed out of trouble after Wednesday’s crashes claimed several of them, with the exception of Levi Leipheimer, part American outfit Radioshack, who skidded on a white line and crashed with just five kilometres to go.
Boassen Hagen was helped to the line by Geraint Thomas as Team Sky got it right at the sprint, beating off a strong challenge from Matt Goss and still race-leader Thor Hushovd.
Overall Hushovd maintains his normal strong start to the event, but the yellow jersey will not be his for much longer. Britain’s David Millar is just 8 seconds off the pace in fourth place.