Seeing Edvald Boasson Hagen in a Total Direct Énergie jersey is one of those sights that makes you do a double-take and think, “Can this be right?” The Norwegian’s move to the French team was among the more unexpected of the off-season transfers, but was part of an overall strategy designed to boost the team's frontline attack.
As part of the overhaul, Pierre Latour, Alexandre Geniez and Alexis Vuillermoz were recruited from AG2R Citroën, while Chris Lawless joined from Ineos Grenadiers. Boasson Hagen, who raced alongside Latour and Lawless at the Étoile de Bessèges, is enjoying the early days at his new squad.
“I guess it might seem a bit strange to see me on a French team after all these years, but I like the change that it’s brought and the fact that it presents me with some new challenges,” Boasson Hagen told Cyclingnews at the five-day race.
"It’s a good team, very well established and what’s struck me most of all so far is that it’s a very friendly group."
Unfortunately for the Norwegian, a crash circling a roundabout in the final kilometre of the second stage all but ended his chances of his giving the team the win they were looking for in France’s opening stage race. “The other guys made it around and I lost traction and went down,” he explained.
“The back wheel lost traction just as I was about to start pedalling. The pedal didn’t hit, it was just the loss of traction that sent me down. It was probably my own fault. I feel sorry for the other guys I took down, but you never crash on purpose, it’s just part of racing,” he said, his sense of disappointment increased by the fact that his teammates had put him in a good position for what turned out to be race’s only bunch sprint.
“The shame of it was that I could have had an OK result,” he added ruefully. The injuries, including road rash and bruising on his thigh and stitches in a cut in his elbow meant that he couldn’t contribute much on the stages that followed.
“Yesterday and today it’s been a lot worse than the first day after I crashed,” he said after finishing his final day time trial.
“I think the muscles have been tightening up, which hasn’t felt good. But nothing is broken so it should all heal quickly and I’ll be good again. I’m racing the opening weekend in Belgium next, so I’ve got time to heal up and get 100 per cent fit again for that,” he said.
Beyond that, he will follow a similar programme to previous seasons.
“I’ll start with the Classics of course and then the big focus will be the Tour de France, for which the team now has a confirmed place, which is very good news. Overall, I’m happy with the way things have gone, so far in this first block of racing,” said the Norwegian.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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