UPDATED: The three Norwegians riding in this year’s Tour de France haven’t managed to claim any victories or prestigious jerseys yet, and then they all ended up in a collision. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Norway’s biggest hope since Thor Hushovd lost his chance to race, was among those hitting the ground but ended up in fifth place on Friday July 5 and second overall. A week later he got into another collision and was out of the race.
Hagen has been called an “invaluable” member of his team, Sky, but his Tour de France participation came to a brutal end when he broke his shoulder in a major crash on the run into Tours on July 11.
Before that, commentators agreed that Hagen was riding very well and was among the favorites in the sprint, but he got caught in a clutch of riders at the end of last Friday’s race and couldn’t get out. “It was a tough sprint,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) when it was all over.
The stage covered 205.5 kilometers from Montpelier to Albi, and was full of drama that affected all three Norwegians. First came reports that Hagen was involved in a collision with several other riders after just 10 kilometers. When the stage ended, Norwegian rider Lars Petter Nordhaug said both he and fellow Norwegian Alexander Kristoff, who turned 26 on Friday, also fell in the collision.
“We celebrated Alex’ birthday on the asphalt,” joked Nordhaug to NRK.
It wasn’t the happiest of birthdays for Kristoff, who won a bronze medal at last summer’s Olympics and had high hopes for this year’s Tour de France. He ended up bruised and in 152nd place after Friday’s stage.
Nordhaug, who also looked forward to Friday’s stage because he’s strong on hilly stretches, wound up 53rd but both he and Kristoff said they were ready to ride again on Saturday. So was Hagen, who did the best of the three and has placed in the top three several times this week. He was just four seconds away from winning the yellow jersey on Tuesday, for example, and was ranked second overall at the end of the tour’s first week.
Hushovd, meanwhile, could claim some sweet revenge of sorts after he didn’t make the final cut for his BMC team’s Tour de France lineup. He won the mass sprint in the Tour of Austria on Tuesday and claimed he felt like he was “in fantastic fine form, I had great legs and could just roar ahead.” Hushovd also won the Norwegian championship this year.