Cyclist’s sport on a roll

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Norwegian cycling star Edvald Boasson Hagen has won another major victory, and commentators claim it shows how Norwegian cycling in general is on a roll. Boasson Hagen himself was happy after winning the silver medal in the cycling world championships, but not entirely satisfied.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (left) on the winners' platform at the cycling world championships over the weekend. PHOTO: Facebook/Limburg 2012

“It’s of course kind of bitter not to take the gold, but I’m pleased with the silver,” the modest young man from just outside Lillehammer told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after the race on Sunday in Limburg, The Netherlands.

He beat Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde and the rest of the pack on the 267-kilometer course but finished behind Philippe Gilbert of Belgium with a time of six hours, 10 minutes and 45 seconds, just four seconds behind Gilbert. Boasson Hagen said later, though, that winning the silver medal in the world championships was even better than winning one of the stages of the Tour de France, which he’ also done.

“This is the best I’ve done ever,” Boasson Hagen allowed. He also praised and thanked his teammates Lars Petter Nordhaug and Gabriel Rasch, insisting it was more of a “team victory” than an individual accomplishment.

Others gave him more credit. “What Edvald does is fantastic,” said cycling commentator Dag Erik Pedersen. “He chose the right tactics, and was ice-cold and concentrated.”

His performance also reflects well on how Norway has progressed to become a major factor in the international sport of cycling, especcially in the past seven years. Boasson Hagen follows stars like Kurt Asle Arvesen and, not least, Thor Hushovd, who has a string of Tour de France accomplishments and actually won the World Champiionship, in Australia, two years ago. Norway can also boast of Alexander Kristoff’s bronze medal in the recent Olympics in London, a silver medal for Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå for terrain cycling in its world championships and a gold medal for Oskar Svendsen in the Junior World Championships. Eline Gleditsch Brustad from Asker also surprised fans with a silver in the junior competition as well.

Norway’s cycling federation overcame years of crisis to drum up both support and stars. Public interest in cycling has risen dramatically as has financial backing. And Norway performed among the best at the world championships over the weekend.

“History shows that it can be smart to think twice before pumping too much air into your expectations,” wrote Aftenposten commentator and sports reporter Espen Hansen on Tuesday. “At the same time, it’s a matter of exploiting your opportunities when they present themselves.

“For Norwegian cycling, it’s never looked better.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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