Norway’s success at the Tour de France rolled on Wednesday when it proved to once again be young Edvald Boasson Hagen’s turn to triumph in the world’s most famous cycling race. He sailed over the finish line alone, sweet revenge after being beaten by fellow Norwegian Thor Hushovd the day before.
“Isn’t this fun?” Boasson Hagen’s father, Odd Erik Hagen, exclaimed to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), quickly adding that “the tears are running for me” but they were tears of joy. Both he and his wife, Signe Boasson, watched their 24-year-old son win the 17th stage of the Tour de France on TV back home in Rudsbygd, and it was another day to wave the flag, also in nearby Lillehammer.
“It’s just so exciting, incredibly exciting,” Edvald Boasson Hagen’s mother told NRK. “When he pulled away on the last hill, and I saw that he wasn’t eaten up by the others, I knew that no one could catch up with him. He’s very good on the downhills.”
Boasson Hagen ended up crossing the finish line all alone with a huge smile on his face because he was way out front and cheered on by lots of Norwegian fans along the route. “Everything was perfect,” he told NRK afterwards. “My (Sky) teammates did a great job helping me break away. I felt great all day. And all the Norwegians along the route gave me extra strength.”
He finished a full 40 seconds ahead of his closest rival, sweet revenge after being second on Tuesday behind Hushovd. “I was disappointed that I didn’t win yesterday and really wanted revenge and to win today,” he said. “This was great.” Hushovd took it easy on Wednesday, finishing 123rd and 14 minutes, 15 seconds behind Boasson Hagen.
Boasson Hagen’s parents were in France when Boasson Hagen won his first stage. The celebration wasn’t any less back home in Norway. “We’re popping open the champagne,” said his father while his mother added that “the telephone is ringing constantly and the text messages are plinging in.”
The congratulations started coming even before Boasson Hagen’s second stage victory was in the box. “The neighbors called and hung up the flag just before the finish, and I said it was too early, but he did it,” said his proud father. “It’s indescribable.”
Boasson Hagen’s brother Stian, who’s studying to be a helicopter pilot, told NRK that he missed the finish because he’d just landed a helicopter at Notodden. “But I realized something big had happened when I saw 50 unanswered calls on my phone and a crazy amount of text messages.”
Stian Boasson Hagen said it was difficult to describe how it felt to experience his younger brother doing so well. “It’s just incredibly fun,” he said. “This is bigger than both I and most others realize. It’s a very tough sport and Edvald’s performance is quite incredible.”
He knew his brother had big plans for Wednesday’s stage. “I spoke with him last night and he wasn’t pleased (after placing second in the 16th stage),” Stian Boasson Hagen said. “‘Second-place is the first loser,’ I told him, and he didn’t like that. But you have to know which buttons to push to motivate a bit.”
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