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After five years at Team Sky, riding mostly for others, Edvald Boasson Hagen has greater ambition and opportunity in 2015 and is clear on what he would most like to do.
“[The goal is to have] a better season than last year, winning more races, contesting the Tour de France and fighting for a stage win,” he said, speaking to Biciclismo. “Winning more and more, or at least trying to. Last year was not the best, so the main goal is to win again.”
Boasson Hagen was previously regarded as a rider with massive potential and his past results as a young rider backed that up. He took the overall in the Tour of Britain plus two editions each of the Eneco Tour and the Glava Tour of Norway, won Gent-Wevelgem, the Vattenfall Cyclassics and the GP Ouest France, and also clocked up a stage win in the 2009 Giro d’Italia plus two in the 2011 Tour de France.
However despite growing older – he’s now 27 years of age – his results have trailed off in recent years and he has clearly lost momentum. He’s hoping to get that back this season with MTN-Qhubeka, although he plays down any suggestion that he will be under extra pressure due to being with a team where he will be a clear leader.
“Pressure? There is no difference, it is always about winning as much as you can,” he said. “It’s all that a rider wants. I put pressure on myself because I want to win.”
The spring Classics will be a big goal for him and he is clear which of them he would most like to excel in .
“The first objective is Paris-Roubaix,” he said. “I know it’s a lofty goal. It is the Classic I like best because it is very hard, as much for the course as the competition. Winning is a great goal, but it must be so, because no one remembers second or third.
“I would also be happy with a top ten, but my goal is to win in Roubaix and get a big win in my career. And I want to have a good overall performance in all the Classics, from San Remo to Roubaix. All are races that are followed and it is important for me and the team to do well.”
After five long years with Team Sky, he said that he believed it was time to try something new. He said that while he doesn’t expect to be chasing general classification results with his new team, he will get opportunities in bunch finishes and also in breakaway moves.
Given that he will be riding alongside the team’s other sprinters such as Theo Bos, Gerald Ciolek, Tyler Farrar and Matt Goss, it might seem to some that there may be too many chiefs. He plays down that suggestion, though, ruling out any possibilities that egos or the ambitions of one or two of those could suffocate the chances of others.
“I do not think it’s a problem. It’s about working well together and winning races,” he said. “That is the main objective. I’m sure there are opportunities for everyone.”
Having ridden in the Challenge Mallorca, where he placed 19th in the Trofeo Santanyi, the Norwegian rider will next race in the Tours of Oman and Qatar, then go on to do the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Ghent-Wevelgem, E3, Flanders and Roubaix.
He will then take a break prior to returning in the Tour of Norway, then will likely line out in the Tour des Fjords, the Critérium du Dauphiné, the national road race championships and then the Tour de France.
He hopes to perform well in as many of those as possible, both for himself and also for the MTN-Qhubeka squad.
He has taken additional motivation from his move to the African team, recognising that it is making history in becoming the first African-registered Pro Continental squad to compete in the Tour. He is also fired up by the charity aspect to the team.
“I feel good, the team is good and we started well. I think it will be a good year,” he said. “And it has a social project with Qhubeka, providing bikes and promoting cycling. The work we are doing in Africa improves the lives of people. That is something that really attracts me. I like to help other people of course. It is about racing for Africa.”