Alexander Kristoff can become Norway’s second-ever World Champion, says his compatriot Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin). Kristoff announced earlier this week that he would lead the three-man Norwegian team that would include himself, Nordhaug and Edvald Boasson Hagen.
"If he can survive the climbs then he can win the race. He's in strong shape," Nordhaug told Cyclingnews. "It depends on how Spain, Italy and those nations are riding. If they go full gas on the climbs then maybe it is too hard for him… We have to stay hidden, we're not going to do anything or pull. If it is a small gap and Alex is 15 seconds behind then we will try to help but we will not take any responsibility in the peloton."
The lumpy parcours should favour a sprinter that can climb, something that should suit all three of the Norwegians. "For sure we go with a really strong team for a medium-hard one-day race. We've all won races similar to the Worlds, but we are a small team, only three. It's not like we are a big team that can take control. We will try to support each other a ride a good race.
"With the season that Alex Kristoff has had this year, he will be – on paper – our leader and the guy that we are riding for," he said.
While his two national teammates have been preparing for the World Championships out in Canada, Nordhaug has been getting the hard miles in at the Tour of Britain. The 30-year-old has had a solid second half of the season, winning a stage of the Arctic Race of Norway and finishing third overall. However, he said, it could have been better.
"It's been ok," he says. "It was nice with the win in the Arctic race, but I was hoping for better results in the Classics and I was also hoping to ride the Tour de France but I didn't ride there so it's been an ok season, but not super. I wanted to be better."
The Tour of Britain will be one of Nordhaug's last races with the Belkin team, as he is set to leave them after two seasons. Norwegian media has linked him with a move to team Sky, where he rode between 2010 and 2012. He refused to confirm the rumours when asked, but did not deny them. "I will leave Belkin, but I cannot say where I am going," he said. "I am talking to teams, but I cannot comment on signing contracts. Hopefully in the next two weeks we will know."