Edvald Boasson Hagen has fond memories of Tirreno-Adriatico, taking his first mass sprint win in the race's seventh stage last year. This year the Sky rider will be looking to win more than just one stage, and also has his eye on Milan-San Remo, which immediately follows the Italian stage race.
“It was great to win there, with so many big names in the field,” Boasson Hagen told procycling.no. “It showed me that they are not unbeatable, but not easy to beat either." A win is a win, “but some are bigger than others.”
The 23-year-old went into last year's race with three wins under his belt, but this year has yet to stand atop the podium. However he brought in top finishes in the Tour of Oman, where he finished second overall for the second consecutive year, and was eighth in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
He also has another year of experience to count on, and hopes to put it to use in the sprints in Italy. “First and foremost I hope that I'm going to be completely at the front. I've become more experienced in the demands of getting up there, every sprint is different. It can be difficult enough just to fight your way to the front positions.”
Juan Antonio Flecha and Ian Stannard will help him move up, with Chris Sutton taking the final turn. They haven't had a chance to work on it much yet, though.
“We don't have much time to practice it. We ride many races in a season, and when we rest between races, we are rarely together. We spend a little time on it during meetings before the season, but otherwise it builds up as a routine during the races.”
Tirreno-Adriatico is the traditional lead-up to Milan-San Remo. Boasson Hagen went into last year's edition of the one-day Classic as a favourite, but stomach problems meant that he could only manage 106th place.
He is looking forward to the chance to improve on that, and inspected the course with his teammates earlier this week. “We drove over the last 100 kilometres of the course,” he said. “I've ridden there three times now, and know the course better and better. It's not like in many of the Belgian classics, where the races criss-cross over various hills.”