Pair aiming to steer clear of early attacks
Norway may be lining up with just four riders in Copenhagen for the UCI World Championships but in Edvald Boasson Hagen and defending champion Thor Hushovd they have two of the race favourites.
At a press conference on the outskirts of the Danish capital the two leaders held court over a mainly Norwegian press corp to discuss their chances.
Both riders share a number of similarities: they both have fast finishes, both won two stages in this year's Tour de France, and crucially, both have made public remarks that they'll work together in Sunday's road race.
"I feel quite good so we will see on Sunday how strong I am. I've been feeling good since the Tour de France and hopefully the form is as good [as it was then]," Boasson Hagen said, before quickly pointing out that, "Me and Thor are going to support each other and ride for the guy who is the strongest. So we will help each other and go in attacks at the end if needed so the other one can save energy. So, yeah we have quite similar roles."
Whether or not such team work plays out remains to be seen. Hushovd is the defending champion, after all, and unlike Boasson Hagen has proven himself in the Worlds road race. However both riders know that they will be unable to mark every move and therefore the initial, or at least public plan, will be that they will take it in tandem to respond to moves.
There was a hint in Hushovd's answer to one question that suggest he still holds the leadership card: "I'm not afraid to say he is a bigger talent than me, not at all, but he just has to take his chances, do his job and think long term and he will win the races he would like to - more than I did."
Kurt Asle Arvesen, the team's veteran who is riding in his final season, acknowledged that their numerical inferiority will mean they don't face the prospect of chasing moves early on in the race and that he and Gabriel Rasch can be at Hushovd's and Boasson Hagen's side for as long as possible.
"They [the big teams] need to take more responsibility in the beginning. We can't ride from the start because we need to be more use in the end. We just need to play on teams like Great Britain which we hope rides for Cav, and then later we can join in and make sure Edvald and Thor are up there fresh."
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