Norwegian cyclist Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Sky emerged as a new media darling after sprinting to a stunning victory in the sixth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, while fellow Norwegian Thor Hushovd retained the coveted yellow jersey. Their performance prompted several local newspapers and websites to jokingly rename the prestigious race “Tour de Norway.”
Norwegian media outlets were having fun this week after yet another year of Tour de France coverage suddenly resulted in a day when Norwegians dominated the winners’ platform. There are only two Norwegians competing in the race this year, and both of them all but crushed their tough competition during the longest lap of the tour. They beat out 192 other top cyclists to win the stage and, for Hushovd, who cycles for the Garmin-Cervélo team, to retain his status as the fastest overall participant so far.
Boasson Hagen, a boyish 24-year-old from the village of Rudsbygd near Lillehammer, scored the biggest triumph of all when he crossed the finish line first after pedaling 226.5 kilometers through Normandy, at times in pouring rain. His team predictably called the victory “Sky-high” and proudly splashed Boasson Hagen all over their website.
For Team Sky’s selection of photos and video, click here (external site).
Boasson Hagen himself told reporters his goal had been to win a stage of the Tour de France. His parents, Signe Boasson and Odd Erik Hagen, were there to see him achieve that goal, and it moved them both to tears as they sat in a Norwegian TV2 vehicle watching the race with former top cyclist Dag Otto Lauritzen, who was the first Norwegian to ever win a Tour de France stage.
“He cried the most,” Signe Boasson told newspaper Aftenposten, playfully poking her husband.
“This means a lot for Edvald, but he won’t get carried away,” Odd Erik Hagen added. “We all have our feet planted firmly on the ground.”
Except, of course, when their son’s feet are firmly on the pedals of his bicycle. On Thursday, they propelled him to win the sixth stage and confirm comparisons to cycling legend Eddy Merckx of Belgium. Many already call Edvald Boasson Hagen “Eddy” as well.
He’s tipped to win more stages as he joins the company of Lauritzen, Kurt Asle Arvesen and Hushovd, who has won eight stages so far in his Tour de France experiences. Hushovd was also glad to hang on to his yellow leader’s jersey for the fastest overall time through the sixth stage (22 hours, 50 minutes and 34 seconds) but he was somewhat overshadowed on Thursday by Boasson Hagen’s win.
“This is great, I almost have no words,” Boasson Hagen said when it was over. But as for the “Eddy” nickname, he told reporters he wants to remain an “all-rounder” and just wants to still be “Edvald.”
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