September 16 - Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen (pictured) claimed a third successive stage win to move into the overall lead of the Tour of Britain today.

The 22-year-old, who is due to join Britain's Team Sky next year, won a sprint finish ahead of Italian Filippo Pozzato and Britain's Russell Downing to claim his sixth Tour of Britain stage victory in two seasons.

He now leads Dutch rider Kai Reus by nine seconds.

In third place is Australia's Chris Sutton, who believes his hopes of winning the Tour may have gone as a result of Garmin-Slipstream team-mate Bradley Wiggins' decision to quit the race.

Britain's triple Olympic gold medallist, who finished fourth in the Tour de France earlier this year, withdrew at the end of the fourth stage in Blackpool to focus on the World Time-Trial Championships in Switzerland next week.

That decision has left Sutton and Garmin a man light for the rest of the week and Sutton admits he is up against it.

Sutton finished ninth in today's 134 kilometres fifth stage around the Staffordshire Moorlands but is now 14 seconds behind the in-form Norwegian.

He said: "I was starting to think about going for the general classification rather than just stages but that is looking less likely now.

"It's still possible but with Bradley dropping out and Boasson Hagen in such good form it makes it really tough.

"I was really disappointed that Bradley dropped out because it makes it so much harder to control a race with one less rider than the other teams.

"He's been like a mentor to me and he really motivates me to push myself and do as well as I can."

But with the two toughest legs of this year's eight-stage course still to come, Sutton, who won the opening stage in York on Saturday, is adamant he will not throw in the towel in his bid for the yellow jersey.

The riders will cycle more than 340km in the next two days.

Sutton said: "Everything is going against the team but I'm not giving up - I'm sure that me and my team mates can be there or thereabouts at the end of the week.

"The last two days have been really hard and things haven't gone the way we wanted them to.

"A bit of tiredness is starting to creep in and the stages are getting more and more difficult but we will keep on going and see where it takes us."

Related stories
September 2009: Wiggins pulls out of Tour of Britain to concentrate on World Championships
September 2009: Norwegian wins third stage of Tour of Britain
September 2009: Dutchman completes miracle recovery with victory in Tour of Britain
September 2009: Australian clinches first stage win at Tour of Britain