MONTRÉAL (VN) — Norway is on a tear.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took the bronze medal at the London Olympic road race. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) won last month’s GP Ouest-France. And in 2011 Norwegian Thor Hushovd wore the world champion’s kit while also sharing a total of four stage wins with Boasson Hagen.
And now there’s Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky Procycling), the third-year pro who took the 128-mile 2012 Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal in a thoroughly convincing fashion before thousands of fans who gathered in the streets and on the grassy inclines of the city’s Mont-Royal parklands.
Nordhaug, 28, joined Sky in 2010 as a domestique. And in fact, his role was that of a worker in Montréal as well.
Riding at the service of Boasson Hagen, on the last of 17 7.5-mile laps, Nordhaug recalls that, with Boasson Hagen on his wheel, he attacked on a climb with the intent of covering any moves that would jeopardize his teammate’s chances of winning.
“But then with three Ks to go I felt super strong and I got a little gap. So then Edvald was screaming on the radio, ‘Go!’”
“I thought I was going to get beaten in the sprint, but I won,” he said.
Rabobank, which had Luis Leon Sanchez, Paul Martens, and Tom Slagter in the hunt on the last lap but put none of them on the podium, should be delighted with the result, since the soft-spoken Norwegian is moving himself and the 80 UCI points earned Sunday to the Dutch team in 2013.
While what may be North America’s largest drum circle throbbed in the background across the street, Nordhaug said that he credits his improvements and the win to increasing self confidence. “It’s my third year as a professional,” he noted.
He also said that riding with Boasson Hagen has upped his faith in himself to deliver when the bombs start going off with 5km to go. Being on the same team as the Giro and Tour stage winner “also made me believe in myself.”
Additionally, Nordhaug mentions coach Bobby Julich as a fitness and assurance booster. He has worked with the American since last October and said “I have to really thank him for most of my success.”
As for his country’s growing booty of pro cycling results, Nordhaug said “It’s great. We are starting to be a good nation.” Mentioning Kirstoff’s Olympic bronze, he added, “it gives motivation when we are more guys getting results.”
And among the younger kids in Norway, Nordhaug says the interest in cycling “is unreal.”
“Bike racing is so big. It’s the second-biggest sport in Norway now. Just wait — in 10 years you are going to see a lot of Norwegian professionals!”