Edvald Boasson Hagen will take the lead at team Sky for this weekend’s Paris-Roubaix. It will be the first time he’s taken leadership of the team at the third monument of the season.
The Spring Classics have been quietly consistent for Boasson Hagen, with a podium placing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and some solid performances in between. He put in a strong showing at the Tour of Flanders where he was the team’s second best finisher. The Norwegian’s results at Roubaix haven’t been the best, but he thinks that this year can be different for him.
“It’s not been the best before, but I’ve been feeling stronger every year and I think that I will go better this year,” he said ahead of the race at the team’s Kortrijk. “I think I have them. I felt strong last Sunday and we also have a really good team. We have to play our cards right I think and get the best out of it. It’s nice to the opportunity to be the leader for Sunday. It’s my biggest goal so far this season and I look forward to it.”
This will be Boasson Hagen’s fourth attempt at Paris-Roubaix. Boasson Hagen has never made it into the top 20, with his best result a meagre 42nd in 2012. With Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins setting the race down as a clear target, he is a surprise choice as leader. Sky also has another potential contender in Geraint Thomas, who finished eighth in last week’s Tour of Flanders.
“We all have the legs and it’s up to the sports directeurs,” said Boasson Hagen. “We still have to make the front and we’re all on a really good level. On paper it is different to what might happen in the race it’s just important one guy as a leader and then see what happens in the race. It’s not like we’re locked into any position although it is important to have clear roles.”
Of all the riders in team Sky’s roster, Boasson Hagen would be the favourite to take it from a small bunch at the finish. However, he has readily admitted that his sprint hasn’t been up to scratch recently and a win from the sprint would help to put that behind him. Boasson Hagen admits that he needs to be prepared for any eventuality on Sunday.
“You have to be ready for a sprint. If it happens then I will have to be ready for it. I hope that I can do a good one, but it is difficult to sprint after 260km than other sprints,” he explained. “It would be a good thing to be ahead so that I don’t have to chase them down when they attack. We will have to see how the race goes and how it pans out. The best thing would be if I could do that, but we will have to see on Sunday. We can plan a lot but it’s not easy. So much can happen in the race.”
When Boasson Hagen arrived at team Sky in 2010 he was tipped at being the next big thing. He has since floundered somewhat, as he spends more time riding in assistance of the grand tour riders, rather than on his own ambitions. His results, or lack of, have lead people to question whether he has lost his killer instinct and if he can again rise to the form that saw him take two impressive Tour de France stage victories. Boasson Hagen answered his detractors, but in his own quietly spoken manner.
“I know where I am and I have been and I am on a top level. Results haven’t been so good now, but I feel pretty strong now and hopefully I can prove people wrong and that I’m still really strong. It doesn’t frustrate me I just need to show them that they are wrong. They can say what they want and I will just do my best.”