Thor Hushovd (BMC) exchanges greetings with a man dressed as a panda at the Tour of Beijing.
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Norwegian to start season at Dubai Tour
Thor Hushovd has said that he is aware of the need to land results as he enters the final year of his contract with BMC. The former world champion signed for the squad ahead of the 2012 campaign, but his first two seasons with the team were blighted by illness.
“If I ride well, I will show that I am still one of the big guys, and I need to do that to get another contract offer,” Hushovd told Norwegian website VG. “I’m happy at BMC and might well stay here longer, but at the same time I am open to offers.”
Hushovd was speaking at BMC’s pre-season media day in Denia, Spain, where he outlined his goals for the new campaign. While the cobbled classics, and Paris-Roubaix in particular, will be the centerpiece of his spring, the Norwegian stressed the importance of getting his season off to a winning start.
“The main goal is the classics, but if I can win a nice race at the beginning of the year, that’s good. It’s better to take what you can than to go all-in for Roubaix and miss out there,” Hushovd said. “If you can win Het Nieuwsblad, it’s not the biggest win, but it’s a nice win and I’ll try to win there. If I can win a stage at the Tour of Dubai, also, that’s a win.”
Hushovd begins his season at the inaugural Dubai Tour next week, and will then race the Tour of the Mediterranean, Tour du Haut-Var and Paris-Nice as he builds towards the Spring Classics. A virus ruined his 2012 season, and although he began last year with a win at Haut-Var, Hushovd again struggled in the Classics and it was only in the final months of the season that he rediscovered his winning form, capturing his national title, the Arctic Race of Norway and stages at the Tour of Poland and Tour of Beijing.
“I thought I was 100 percent recovered from my sickness this time last year but then I had my ups and downs, which I’m sure were related to that virus,” he said. “But I’m really happy with how I ended my season last year.”
Hushovd is also hoping to return to the Tour de France in 2014, where he would ride in the service of BMC’s general classification hope Tejay van Garderen. The stage finish at Arenberg in the opening week has also whetted Hushovd’s appetite, given that he triumphed there in 2010 on the last occasion that the Tour sampled the pavé.
“Yeah absolutely, I would love to go there and copy that win. It’s a goal for the season,” Hushovd said.
Hushovd was less certain about whether he would still be in the peloton in 2017, when the world championships could potentially take place in his home country. Bergen in Norway is the only country to formally announce a bid so far, although Procycling.no reports that Innsbruck, Bogota and Melbourne are also contemplating bids.
“It’s a long way. I’m already 39 by then, and my plan is not to go that far,” said Hushovd, who insisted, however, that he is not lacking in motivation as he faces into his 15th professional season.
“I love riding my bike as long as the health is there and the form is there. If I do a good season this year, [I will race for] a couple more years.”