So far the 2016 pro cycling season has given us two feel good stories.
First, the literal one, sprinter Marcel Kittel has recovered from a lost year of sickness and is winning races from Dubai to the Volta ao Algarve.
The second feel-good narrative is the quiet Norwegian Edvard Boasson Hagen of Dimension Data. Last year after his departure from the Cold World of Sky, he was reinvorgated by a new environment at the South African squad MTN-Quebeka. Edvard just needed some love and less micro-managed sports science to rediscover the joys of bike racing.
This year with new sponsor Dimension Data and even greater support, he’s won a stage in Qatar (barely missing the overall win) and took out a great win over Vincenzo Nibali and Greg Van Avermaet in stage two of the Tour of Oman.
Boasson Hagen always struck us as a sensitive young man with insane genetic gifts for an endurance sport but perhaps someone who lacked the nasty, ego-driven edge to consistently win at the WorldTour level.
While teammates once called him Eddy Junior for his precocious talents, nobody ever claimed he had the same ruthless mentality as the Cannibal, Mr. Merckx. So it’s nice to see that the change of scenery has done him well. He looks like a guy who’s having fun again, not a guy worried that his physiological data isn’t plotting well on the Sky Algorithms. He’s not longer a collection of data points and metrics on a Plug & Podium squad.
That’s not to slight the Sky approach which has proven immensely successful for riders like Wiggins and Froome to Porte and Geraint Thomas. It’s simply that in terms of fit and culture, Dimension Data is a much more nurturing environment for Boasson Hagen.
We look forward to seeing how the rest of the season will unfold for the Norwegian. Be nice to see him win a Tour de France stage.