Interesting story in cyclingpub about Edvald Boasson Hagen and his chances of winning the World’s Men’s Road Race on home soil.
By the attitude of his quotes, he’s not only on rock solid form but confident and even aggressive in how he expects to attack the race. That’s a bit of a personality change for the quiet, unassuming, generic-quotes Norwegian.
Our feeling about Boassen Hagen has been the same since his career stagnated at Sky. He didn’t fit in with the business attitude and sports science worship at Sky. After a fast start, his results gradually fell off until it was time for greener, less data-driven pastures. (Thought we did enjoy meeting his parents at the 2010 Tour.)
That exit led to a smart and fortuitous move to the fledgling MTN-Qhuebeka team where the vibe was looser and the mission grander and beyond the narrow confines of sport. Basically, the nice kid from Rudsbygd, Norway just needed some love and the freedom to train as he wished instead of living under the Sky microscope.
He got off to a relatively slow launch at Qhubeka (now Dimension Data) but by year three we witnessed a new Boasson Hagen. His performances, stage after stage in the 2017 Tour de France, were a revelation in terms of style and performance.
The Norwegian was constantly and aggressively on the attack and with any luck would have won three stages. Instead he had to settle for two photo-finish second places and a well-deserved win on stage 19 into Salon de Provence. It was like he’d gotten himself a personality transplant. He became Boasson-Sagan or Boasson van Avermaet. The man was taking risks, rolling dice and trusting his instincts and legs.
That’s why the cyclingpub interview was a clear confirmation of Eddy’s new attitude. He is taking this race by the horns and any extra pressure from the race being on home soil is just extra inspiration.
“The biggest change is that now I dare to take the risks like I did before. Instead of trying to save myself and riding smart and careful to arrive to the bunch sprint, I’ve started to ride as I used to,” Boasson Hagen told Norwegian TV2.
What’s clear is that he’s no longer content to play safe and hope the race somehow drops in his lap. “I go early, take a chance and go away. I feel like I’ve begun to get everything back, that I’ve got stronger and more explosive. Then I have to trust myself and my instincts and ride accordingly,” he said.
That’s great news because this is a rider worth pulling for. Edvald is a classy guy, a gentleman and doesn’t seem to have an egotistical bone in his body. Although as we now look at the new Boasson Hagen we’re reminded that in the 2016 Worlds Road Race in Quatar, he finished sixth after not following orders from his sprinter captain Alexander Kristoff. Even last year, Eddy was showing off his renewed ambition.
He’s also taken a page out of the old Sky book and dig deep into his race prep. “All the season has been about building up my shape towards Bergen. We have studied what’s coming and simulated everything in training. That is something I’ve never done before,” said Boasson Hagen. Nothing wrong with mixing in a little Sky analytics with the improv.
What we love is that at age 30, Boasson-Hagen has recognized the need to change his game. He’s no longer the cool Norwegian, he’s the stone cold killer. “There are 200 men who want the champion jersey, but not as much as I do. I’m ready to give it all.”
Welcome to Bergen, Bad-Ass.(Perhaps he needs a set of cool bike tattoos — a full sleeve might complete the transformation.)