Bad feelings between Norway’s top cyclists

Boasson Hagen and Kristoff place sixth and seventh in Doha following a frustrating finish

Photo: S. Plaine / Wikimedia Commons Alexander Kristoff in Paris in 2015.

Photo: S. Plaine / Wikimedia Commons
Alexander Kristoff in Paris in 2015.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

Tensions are high between Norway’s top two cyclists after a rocky end to the men’s elite road race at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships in Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 16.

According to the team’s plan, Edvald Boasson Hagen was supposed to support captain Alexander Kristoff in the race, aiding him in his sprint. But when Boasson Hagen crossed the finish line in sixth place, ahead of Kristoff in seventh, it was clear that the plan had not been executed properly. In the end, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan took first to defend his world road race title, followed by Mark Cavendish from Great Britain in second and Belgium’s Tom Boonen in third.

Kristoff was visibly upset after the race and claimed that his teammate had abandoned their plan to sprint for his own chances at a medal, costing him a potential podium place.

“I was in the wheel of Edvald with 500 meters to go, and I was really thinking that he should move but, unfortunately for me, he was waiting and waiting, and then he was sprinting for himself,” he said to Cyclingnews.

According to Kristoff, he had been screaming at his teammate to start increasing his pace but received no response until it was too late and Boasson Hagen started his own sprint for the finish.

“I was pretty pissed when I passed the finish line because he could have done a perfect lead-out, but in the end we finished sixth and seventh. That’s nothing to come home with,” he added.

Boasson Hagen, on the other hand, felt that he was trying to follow their plan but that his attacks just didn’t pan out.

Photo: Roxanne King / Wikimedia Commons Edvald Boasson Hagen in Quebec in 2012.

Photo: Roxanne King / Wikimedia Commons
Edvald Boasson Hagen in Quebec in 2012.

“It was for Alex, and I was trying for a few attacks. I didn’t attack myself, but I tried to follow when Van Avermaet and Terpstra tried. And then it got to the sprint. I tried to do the sprint. I had hoped to sprint for Alex but it didn’t work like that,” he told Cyclingnews.

In an attempt to settle the feud, a meeting was set up between the two cyclists later in the day. Kristoff was even more upset after reviewing pictures, however, and the effort to reconcile was unsuccessful.

“We did not come to an agreement. I had expected an apology, perhaps, but it did not come. I felt betrayed, and he felt that he was trying. The more I see the pictures, the more betrayed I feel,” he said to NRK. “I was unsure when I crossed the finish line if we had been blocked or something, but when you see the pictures, we had a clear path the whole way. The plan was quite clear.”

With the 2017 World Championships in Bergen just 11 months away, some are wondering if Kristoff and Boasson Hagen will be willing to work together at that point.

“This is going to affect how Norway emerges as a national team on the professional side. We stand at a crossroads where big personalities have not managed to seize the opportunities they’ve had the last two years,” admitted coach Stig Kristiansen of the dispute to TV 2. While he hopes both will be able to compete in Bergen, he notes that it is ultimately possible that one could be asked to stay home.

On the bright side, a promising Truls Engen Korsæth did exceptionally well in his debut senior World Championships. The 23-year-old, who competed for the Norwegian continental squad Team Joker, took a strong 16th place finish.

“I think that we had three guys that were looking strong, especially Truls being a Continental rider and racing at this level. He was there until the end. He was impressive today and I wish that I could have brought something home,” said Kristoff to Cyclingnews.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 4, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.