Team Sky's Boasson Hagen of Norway celebrates as he crosses the finish line after the 17th stage of the Tour de France 2011. REUTERS

Edvald Boasson-Hagen continued Norway's remarkable record in this year's Tour when he seized victory in Wednesday's 179km 17th stage from Gap to Pinerolo.

Boasson-Hagen and Thor Hushovd are the only two Norwegian riders in this year's edition but they have now won four stages between them. In contrast, 45 French riders began the Tour this year and none have so far won a stage.

Following his sixth stage win in Lisieux, Boasson-Hagen went with the 14-man breakaway that formed around the 55km mark. The riders, elbow to elbow and wheel to wheel, entered Italy in the first of three stages in the Alps. The 24-year-old Norwegian went on his own as the riders approached the Italian Alpine town of Pinerolo and expertly navigated the sharp descend to cross the finish line first.

"I wanted to win this stage because I came so close the day before," Boasson-Hagen told reporters. "I wanted to get revenge. My team-mates did a good job early on to get me in the break and I felt quite strong all the way."

The Team Sky rider finished 40 seconds ahead of Dutchman Bauke Mollema, while France's Sandy Casar was third, 10 seconds behind.

Frenchman Thomas Voeckler retained the overall leader's jersey; with all of France willing him on as the dream of a first French winner since 1985 continues for at least another 24 hours.

"I led down the descent and tried to attack but I obviously overdid it a little and I went out. When you go off once, it affects your confidence and you keep crashing," he said.

The Europcar rider slipped off the road three times on his way down to Pinerolo. The third time he missed a turn and found himself in a private car-park.

"Had I not acted as a mad dog I might have finished with the other leaders," he said.

"Every day I lose a couple of seconds. It will be hard tomorrow because if I cannot follow the others in a descent, I won't be able to follow them on the Galibier."

On Thursday the Tour continues into the Alps with a grand and potentially dramatic 200km ride, culminating at the top of the 2,645m Galibier pass.