Africa's Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka made the early running in Thursday's fifth stage of the Tour de France before Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won his second stage of this year's tour.
Sagan powered to victory in an uphill sprint against Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) while Philipe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) rounded out the stage podium for third.
The fifth stage of the Tour de France was the toughest yet, ranging over 204 kilometres between Lorient and Quimper. The final half of the stage was particularly testing with five categorised climbs mixed in with narrow roads and numerous tight turns.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started the stage off on the front foot with Julien Vermote attacking early with six other riders, to form the break of the day. Vermote and Co rode hard to establish a lead of just over four minutes to the peloton, before BMC Racing and Bora-Hansgrohe started to apply pressure in the main pack.
Sylvain Chavanel (Direct-Energie) then forced the pace with breakaway attacking some 87km from the finish. The remaining six riders chased, Vermote included, until around 56km to go when they started to counter attack one another. Vermote soon returned to the peloton as Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) and Tom Skujins leapfrogged Chavanel to go into the race lead.
The peloton reacted to activities up the road by upping the tempo further on the hilly roads and this put a number of sprinters into difficulty, Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel (Katusha) included. The leading duo was eventually caught with 11km to go and it was here were Edvald Boasson Hagen showed himself at the front of the race for the African Team.
The team's Norwegian held good position right up to the finishing 1km climb with help from our South African, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg at certain points.
Boasson Hagen started the uphill sprint on the wheel of the yellow jersey, Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) but the gradient proved to be too much for 'Eddy the Boss', as the likes of Sagan and Colbrelli came into their own. Sagan took the stage win just ahead of the Italian, just as he had done so on stage two.
Boasson Hagen said: 'That final kilometre was really hard. In general though I was feeling pretty good during the stage. The guys were good being around me all the time, so that was nice.
'The last kilometre was just too steep for me. I was actually in a good position but I just didn't have the legs. Tomorrow's going to be another hard stage but we will do as best we can, and hopefully one of us can be up at the front at the finish.'