Capital gains as Norwegian Hagen scoops Tour of Britain

TOUR OF BRITAIN winner Edvald Boasson Hagen hailed the Londoners who turned out in their droves to witness him sealing his stunning triumph on Saturday. <br /><br />The Norwegian, who rides for Team Columbia, finished 23 seconds ahead of Australian Chris Sutton after Italian Michele Merlo won the final stage in the capital. <br /><br />Hagen dominated throughout the event, winning four of the eight stages, an achievement he admits came as a surprise. <br /><br />&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t expect to win four stages and so it&rsquo;s been a fantastic week. It was amazing to win in the centre of London because there were huge crowds,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really good to win this race after all the hard work by the team, I&rsquo;m really happy for me and for them.&rdquo;<br /><br />Merlo stormed to his first victory in his debut year as a professional after taking the lead with 200m left and he too was quick to praise the capital. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an emotional victory,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s in London, a big stage, big crowds and the first time I&rsquo;ve ever been to London.&rdquo; <br /><br />The Italian&rsquo;s team, Barloworld, are set quit cycling and the rider hopes his win will attract outside interest. <br /><br />He added: &ldquo;Barloworld are stopping at the end of the year, so I&rsquo;m trying to find a new team.&rdquo; <br /><br />Britain&rsquo;s best-placed finisher Russell Downing produced a late surge to end up sixth in the final sprint and fifth overall.