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Tobias Foss was at the edge of most people’s TT radars Sunday morning. That may change now the Norwegian has a rainbow jersey on his back.
Foss stunned an all-star cast of talent Sunday to deliver Norway a historic first time trial gold at the UCI Road World Championships.
“It feels like I’m in some kind of dream, I don’t believe it, it’s so unreal,” Foss said.
Foss won the last two Norwegian national time trial championships, but an appearance at the top of the worlds results sheet was way off the script.
Remco Evenepoel, Stefan Küng, Ethan Hayter, and double defending champion Filippo Ganna crowded pre-race favorites’ lists and Foss was an afterthought.
“If I had been top-10 today I’d have been really satisfied. Even top-five I was hoping for, so to wear that rainbow jersey will be really special,” Foss said after he secured gold in Wollongong. “I will try to honor the jersey as best as I can, but I will for sure enjoy it as best as possible.”
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As a former Tour de l’Avenir winner, Foss was long hyped to deliver on the scale of riders that preceded him in the French devo race.
But unlike l’Avenir champions Tadej Pogačar and Egan Bernal, Foss charted a slower rise. Ninth overall with Jumbo-Visma at the 2021 Giro d’Italia was the 25-year-old’s biggest result to date – until he delivered his underdog victory Down Under.
“It’s unbelievable what’s happening,” he said. “I can dream it, but to actually achieve this, especially when I have so much respect for these guys around me … I think when I get back to the hotel, I have some time to digest everything.
Foss closed an Australian circle for Norway when he beat Küng and Evenepoel to the top of the podium Sunday. The nation’s last elite male world title came when Thor Hushovd won gold in the Australian Geelong road race in 2010.
“I guess we really like Australia,” Foss quipped.
‘It’s been quite a challenging season mentally’
Foss had to reverse the momentum of a season derailed when it had barely got started in order to score his worlds gold medal.
A heavy crash at the Volta ao Algarve in February threw a wrench into his co-captaincy ride alongside Tom Dumoulin at the Giro d’Italia in what had been his A-race for 2022.
“To be honest, it’s been quite a challenging season mentally. I felt like I took some really good steps through winter with training and was on to something good in Algarve, and the general feeling there was good,” he said. “Then the crash, with me hitting my head quite hard, I think that also messed up a bit my Giro when I was going for it.”
Foss was a non-factor at the Italian tour and finished three hours off the pace.
It was an unwanted U-turn on his top-10 finish the year before.
“It’s been really challenging, but luckily I had a really good team at my back and good family and friends around me,” Foss said. “I had a good reset after the nationals [in June], rested well mentally, gave my body the rest it needed. Since then I’ve been really fresh, especially mentally, to put in all the work necessary for this race.”
The reset did Foss some good. Confidence-boosting rides at the GP Montréal and Québec put the young star on a rapid path toward Norway’s first TT gold medal.
“I got the signals, my legs were really good and I was confident my shape is good, but this is more than I could ever dream of,” he said. “I will try to enjoy it, but first I have to realize it.”
The Jumbo-Visma time trial talent factory
Foss is the latest product hot out of the Jumbo-Visma TT talent factory.
Tom Dumoulin, Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, and Rohan Dennis have all flourished under the Dutch squad’s “no stone unturned” approach to tech and training.
After joining the Dutch crew in 2020, Foss rode a team-issue Cervélo bike and used much of his Jumbo-Visma TT apparel on his way to becoming another of the team’s TT champions Sunday.
“I think they really up in a lot of time and effort in finding the best equipment for us to get a good skin suit, and training-wise we’re doing a really good job and have really good guys around us,” he said. “The way that the team supports young guys in good times and in bad times, that helped a lot.”