Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boassen Hagen. Photo: Dag W. Grundseth
Tactics, particularly what will happen in a mass sprint, was the hottest topic at Friday’s press meeting with the Norwegian World Cup team.
The contrast to previous championships was tremendous at the press conference. Norwegian riders have largely been left alone, at least by the international press, in the past.
In Frederiksborg Center in Hillerød, about four miles north of Copenhagen, there were around 100 journalists present.
Reigning world champion Hushovd and wonderboy Edvald Boasson Hagen are two of the hottest candidates who will cross line at the top of Geel’s hill at about 5 p.m. on Sunday. Their performances during the Tour de France perhaps helped raise international interest in the Norwegian team.
“We have devised a series of scenarios about how things may develop in the final kilometer, the last mile, the last hour. And we have a plan, but we do not intend to disclose it,” sporting director Steffen Kjærgaard opened at the press conference.
Many tried during the conference to lure out of Hushovd and Boasson Hagen what would happen if both are together toward the end of the race, if it comes to a sprint, but no one would fully reveal the plan.
“The course is so easy that I find it hard to imagine that some of the favorites will be dropped along the way. But when it comes to a type like Mark Cavendish, we will try to tire him out as much as possible before the final sprint,” explained Hushov, which was the natural leader of the press conference.
Because Norway only has four riders in the World Cup, it is necessary to watch carefully other countries that have eight or nine riders.
When Hushovd won the title last year, he had a special eye on what the Spaniards did to Oscar Freire.
“We expect that Britain bet everything on Cavendish, and we need to look at that. But we must also look at countries like Belgium and Italy,” explained the man who now has packed away the rainbow jersey he has cycled with this entire season.
“I feel very ready for a new jersey. If we concentrate only on the sprint, the trail here in Copenhagen is better than the one in Geelong last year. But overall the track here is a little too easy,” he concluded.
For Edvald Boasson Hagen it is important to try to imagine that this is just a normal race. For him, it works best. But isn’t a World Cup race not exactly normal?
“No, since it is with the national team, it is a little different,” said the 24-year-old from Rudsbygd.
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