Thor Hushovd has a long way to go if he is to launch Norway’s first ever WorldTour squad but the former cycling world champion is confident that he can attract the necessary sponsors to launch a squad in 2017.
Hushovd, now retired and an ambassador for the Arctic Race of Norway, rode for a number of high-level teams during his career but would like to replicate the structure and ethos that was in place during his time at the short-lived Cervelo TestTeam, which ran from 2009 until 2010. The team ran out of funding in 2010 but not before they made a significant imprint on the cycling world.
"I liked the Cervelo TestTeam a lot, and I’d like to go into that direction. I want a simple structure with good people. I don’t want many distractions, just people who do their work. That’s what we had at Cervelo, where we signed some riders who weren’t the best when they joined but who did great things together as a group," Hushovd told the press during a pre-race gathering in Norway’s costal town of Harstad.
"I’m still working on it and having a lot of meetings. I’m optimistic that in 2017 Norway will have its first-ever big team. Hopefully a WorldTour team."
Hushovd is searching the Norwegian market for sponsors and is confident that a team with national roots can be developed as the country enjoys a boom in cycling success.
"I need a lot of good people around me. One to take care of business and then on the sporting side I have some people who know what need to be done. But first of all you need the money," he said.
"I know it’s hard but I also know that there are companies in Norway who can afford it and we have a good product. I need to show them that they can get a lot back. I think there are one or more who want to get into cycling."
"We love sport and we love when Norwegians do well. I want people to think of us as team Norway when we race."
It’s almost a year since Hushovd hung up his wheels. He still looks lean enough to compete but the 37-year-old admits that he has come to terms with the fact he has retired from professional cycling. As he lays the foundations for a possible team a new phase in his life is beginning.
"I’m relieved. I’ve put that behind me and I’ve done my years. To take that decision was difficult and to accept it was just as difficult but I’m here now and I’m happy with what I’m doing. When I see pictures of myself winning here two year ago, I would obviously like that fitness and to complete but I’m happy that it’s over."