We just don’t quite know what to make of Edvald Boasson Hagen.
The talented rider for Sky was once spoken of the way people now talk about Peter Sagan. A freakish talent, wide skill set, near unlimited potential. Teammates used to called him Eddy Jr in reference to his soon-to-be revealed Merckxian brilliance.
Well, that never happened and nobody calls him Eddy Jr anymore and maybe team boss David Brailsford is wondering where his own numerical calculations for Hagen’s success went wrong. The arc on the performance graph was supposed to tilt up, not down. Sir Dave is double-triple-taking on the Norwegian’s metrics and muttering WTF.
Which is exactly the same thing we’re doing at Twisted Spoke. What’s eating Edvald? Where did all the promise go? How did the fuse burn out on the way to the dynamite?
Last season the quiet Norwegian did pretty well in Norway and pretty terrible everywhere else. He won his home tour, took first in the National TT and third in the National road race. Throw a stage win in the Dauphiné and you’ve got paltry palmares.
This season began with promise with a 3rd in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, then injury and silence. The man hasn’t raced since June and is just coming back to action with the Tour of Poland. Don’t expect much.
Call it loose psychological speculation but EBH strikes us as a odd character. He missed this year’s Tour de France, Le Grand Shindig, the Everest of cycling and his reaction was pretty much, Tour, meh.
“(I didn’t miss it) Not too much, to be honest. I watched a few of the mountains stages but I’ve been that focused on my recovery that I was often out on the bike when it was on,” said Hagen. Generally speaking, most pros would kill their mother to make the tour roster and are depressed when they fail. If you’re a competitor, you want the biggest stage to square off against the best of the best. Meanwhile Hagen can barely stifle a yawn.
Sky has had many troubles dealing with the volatile, loose cannon personality of Bradley Wiggins. We’re guessing it’s the opposite problem with the under-stated and unemotional Boasson Hagen. How to light a fire under the guy? What’s it gonna take to get him jacked up for a race? Kill Edvald, kill!
Meanwhile he’s getting comfy on the couch.
“It did feel good sitting at home watching on TV though, when they were in the mountains. A few of those stages looked horrible.” Sure, the weather was miserable in France and it was an especially difficult Tour but who says things like that — it felt good sitting at home watching on TV?
Now by all accounts EBH is a sweet guy, polite to a fault, a genuine nice fellow. And maybe he’s simply a Nordic guy who doesn’t need to shout and pound his chest and scream at people. We’re fine with that but we just don’t know what’s driving him.
Sky’s sport psychologist Steve Peters, the man famous for his “inner chimp” analogy, must wonder what the little primate inside Hagen is doing. Chimp napping, chimp sabotaging, chimp watching porn? No, sorry, that last one would be Sagan’s chimp.
In any case, we’re getting the vibe that Sky is done with Hagen, run out of patience. According to reports, Hagen is already in talks with MTN-Qhubeka. Which seems an odd landing strip for Hagen, given he’s been with the biggest, most well-funded team in pro cycling. Rumors are that MTN-Qhubeka is stepping up and ready to bring on several big names but it still feels like a drop off the map.
The team has no plans to apply for WorldTour status and that doesn’t bode well for Hagen returning to the Tour de France. Then again, maybe that “I didn’t miss it” quote is good for next year, too.
Our first reaction on the MTN-Qhubeka switch is that Hagen is tired of the pressure and spotlight at Sky. Perhaps he thinks the change of scenery will be a true breath of fresh air and a better place to rebuild his race career. He’s done with with over-analytical Sky approach — maybe Edvald wants to loosen up and have fun. Crazy Eddy kinda thing.
We can’t really say one way or the other because Edvald is an old duck.