Cyclist sets sights on Rio, not London

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UPDATED: Norway’s star cyclist Thor Hushovd has had to accept that a mysterious virus has ruined his chances of competing in the upcoming Olympics. Now he’s eyeing a new chance at the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, even though he says he’ll be “an old man” by then.

Norwegian cycling star Thor Hushovd would dearly love a return to his glory days, like just last year, when he won the 16th stage of the Tour de France. PHOTO: Garmin-Cervelo

Hushovd, age 34, had to throw in the proverbial towel this week and announce that he simply wasn’t in good enough shape for a spot on Norway’s Olympic team at this year’s Summer Games in London. He’s had a disappointing season, falling ill last winter and also having to withdraw from the Tour de France for the first time in a decade.

He tried to cycle in a major race in Poland instead, but has had one disappointment after another this summer. On Monday came confirmation that he won’t participate in the Olympics either.

“The Olympics were the main goal for this season, and with a course that would have suited me well,” Hushovd told newspaper Aftenposten. “But I want Norway to have the best possible team and when my body isn’t functioning optimally, I must unfortunately step aside.”

Steffen Kjærgard of the Norwegian Cycling Association said it was “sad for Norwegian cycling and  not least for Thor himself,” especially when the Olympic course was much like the one where Hushovd also won the world championship in 2010.

Hushovd still doesn’t know why his body “isn’t functioning” like it should. “It’s been three months now since I really felt normal,” he told Aftenposten. “My head wants to cycle fast, but my body feels sluggish and there’s no power in my legs. I unfortunately don’t know what’s causing this. That’s what’s so frustrating.”

Hushovd will undergo more testing, and he also is unsure whether he’ll be able to do any more competitive cycling this year. That means he may also need to bow out of the world championships in The Netherlands later this year.

“I just don’t know what will happen,” said Hushovd, who now cycles for BMC Racing Team. “I have to find out what’s wrong with me first.”

New team line-up
Norway’s other star cyclist, Edvald Boasson Hagen, has thus emerged as the man to watch for Norwegian fans. Hagen, a 25-year-old from Rudsbygd who cycles professionally for Team Sky, will lead a five-member Norwegian team that now consists of himself, Lars Petter Nordhaug from Tønsberg (who also rides for Team Sky), Alexander Kristoff from Stavanger (Team Katusha) and Vegard Stake Laengen from Asker (Team Type 1-Sanofi).

Hushovd still wants to win an Olympic medal to complement his stash of other trophies, noting that London “isn’t the last OL chance.” He said a month ago that he would gladly end his career at the world championships on home turf Bergen in 2016, the same year as the Olympics in Rio.

One consolation to missing the Olympics in London: His wife Susanne is expecting their second child just days before the Olympic torch will be lit in London. Now Hushovd won’t have any problem concentrating on the birth and being there, instead of in England.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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