FOLIGNO, Italy (VN) — Edvald Boasson Hagen’s time to win another classic is near, according to insiders close to the Norwegian. The feeling is that after his success in Qatar and Oman and a week’s racing in Tirreno-Adriatico this week, he will be ready to bag another big one-day race win.
That’s the thinking, at least. After passing several quiet years with team Sky, “Eddy” Boasson Hagen seems to be back at his best with his new Dimension Data team.
“I hope to be up there for the classics,” Boasson Hagen told VeloNews. “I had injuries before, but I’ve been up there before. I won Gent-Wevelgem, but that is already starting to be many years ago! Hopefully, I can be good now, this year, and I hope to have no crashes or injuries that set me back.”
Standing tall over his silver Cervélo bike at Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico, Boasson Hagen could see the classics well on the horizon: Milano-Sanremo on March 19 followed by E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix.
“The goal is to do well in all of them, but my dream is to win Paris-Roubaix,” he added. “Flanders can also suit me well, we will see.”
Brian Smith, the manager of the South African WorldTour team, walked up after helping sprinter Mark Cavendish on his way to the stage start. He filled in the gaps that a naturally quiet Boasson Hagen left.
“He’s quiet and reserved, but when you get him in a race he can be an animal,” Smith said. “It’s that Viking mentality. Eddy saw what Thor Hushovd did in Roubaix and he thought, ‘If he can almost win it, then I can do it.’”
Boasson Hagen won Gent-Wevelgem in 2009 at 21 years old. Afterwards, however, he faded away from the forefront. Riding for Team Sky from 2010 through 2014, he won two Tour de France stages, but became quickly overshadowed by grand tour stars Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. He did not win a single race in 2014.
“Sky’s a different team all together. We were a team where we gave opportunities,” said Smith. “With Team Sky, they wanted the best team ever, all the best riders, but sometimes when you have very little to feed on … He could do so in the first few years, he won two Tour stages, but then … When you put a winner in a team with someone else to win, it grates you down slowly, but surely.”
In the classics, the 28-year-old has had few results besides his Gent-Wevelgem win. The best came in the 2013 E3 Harelbeke when he placed ninth. Last year, in Milano-Sanremo, he placed 10th behind winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin).
“Why now? Look at the results he had this year,” Smith continued. “When you see what he did in the first road stage here in Tirreno-Adriatico [second behind Zdenek Stybar] … When you look at the classics, you look at the Tour of Qatar. Eddy was there. He should’ve won the overall.”
He suffered a double puncture at the wrong moment in Qatar. Cavendish, though, saved the day and won the overall. However, he won the time trial stage and two days in the Tour of Oman, and he is riding well in Italy now.
“I’m happy just to get gradually better here in Tirreno-Adriatico,” Boasson Hagen added. “I feel OK. My form is pretty well now. It’s still a few weeks to the classics and it’s good to gradually be better.”