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Tour de l’Avenir has long been a harbinger of future Tour success, and two recent Avenir winners — Egan Bernal in 2017 and Tadej Pogačar in 2018 — won the yellow jersey after just two seasons in the WorldTour ranks.
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So do the math, and the 2019 Avenir winner Foss should be in the pole position to win the yellow jersey, right?
A big smile creased across Foss’s face when VeloNews asked him about this emerging trend, but didn’t hide yellow jersey intentions.
“The Tour has always been my dream, and winning the Tour is such a big dream,” Foss told VeloNews. “It’s such a hard goal to chase, and I do not know if I will ever win it, but that’s what I am working for every day.”
It’s all but certain Foss won’t be winning the Tour this summer because he won’t be going.
Instead, he’s here in Sicily ready to take on Mount Etna and the first major mountain summit of the Giro d’Italia.
The highly regarded Foss is hoping to top his ninth place overall in last year’s Giro in what’s his third trip kicking along the spine of Italy’s boot.
Foss started the Giro sharing leadership with Tom Dumoulin and Sam Oomen. Foss and Dumoulin left Budapest with their GC options fully intact, with Dumoulin third and Foss seventh. Oomen gave up some time against the clock and was 27th at 47 seconds back.
Foss said he knows his place in the team hierarchy.
“I think we will be around each other, Dumoulin is a big champion, and he’s won this race before. If he is going well, I will fully support him,” Foss said “If not then we see and we will try our best every day. It will be our best option.
“I get a free role also, it’s a huge opportunity for me and it will be a really cool experience,” he said. “It’s hard to say how this course suits me, I would like to see more TTs, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Foss did not finish his Giro debut in 2020, but confirmed his potential by hanging with the “bigs” deep into the third week last year. He punched into the top-10 midway through the race, and defended it all the way to Milano, with ninth overall.
“I’ve been a couple of weeks on Teide, and I am ready to race,” he told VeloNews. “I’ve been a bit unlucky with crashes and COVID this year. I am a guy who doesn’t need a lot of racing, and I am coming off an altitude camp, so I am feeling good.”
Foss’s steady rise is big news back in Norway, which has produced a steady string of stage-hunters, sprinters, and classics stars, but only a handful of GC riders over the decades.
So much so, that Norwegian TV sent a crew to Budapest to document the opening stages of the Giro.
The 6-foot-3 rider admits he’ll never beat the pure climbers in the high mountains, but on the right course with more time trials, some believe he can develop into a grand tour contender along the lines of Bradley Wiggins.
Right now, he’s focused on the task at hand. The first challenge is to get up Mount Etna with the front group. The rest will come later.
“The first week is really hard. After Blockhaus we will see where everything is going,” Foss said. “It’s not necessary to think too much about the situation because the race will put everyone in their correct place. We have to go day by day, and do the best we can.”
Foss will be easy to spot in this year’s Giro, as he’s racing as the Norwegian national champion in both road racing and time trial.