With his victory in the junior road race at the World Championships in Leuven on Friday, Per Strand Hagenes made history as the first Norwegian to win a junior rainbow jersey.
The 18-year-old took a solo victory at the end of eight laps of a technical course around the Vlaams-Brabant city, beating Frenchman Romain Grégoire to the line by 19 seconds following a late attack.
In the process, Hagenes became the sixth Norwegian rider to ever win a road race rainbow jersey, following 1994 women's road race champion Monica Valvik, 2010 men's road race champion Thor Hushovd, and former U23 men's road race champions, Kurt-Asle Arvesenn, Sven Erik Bystrøm, and Kristoffer Halvorsen. After the race, Hagenes said that he was happy to be a history maker.
"We spoke about it when we reconned the course yesterday and we knew that the best result we had before was seventh," said Hagenes in the post-race press conference.
"We had the goal to better that result, but we knew we were a strong team and we managed to take the win, so it's nice to make a little bit of history.
"We had a plan to hopefully make me be able to attack where I did and take the last corner in second or first and attack up the climb. If it would be a sprint then we'd ride for Stian Fredheim, and the other guys were hopefully going to get in breaks. I think we rode strong as a team and the tactic with me attacking in the last climb worked so we have to be happy to take the win."
Hagenes made his race-winning move on the penultimate climb of the crash-hit 121.9-kilometre race, jumping away from a seven-man lead group having earlier bridged across.
With 5.6 kilometres to go, he unleashed a long acceleration, and pushed on to the finish after no chasers were able to bring him back.
One last crash also aided his effort, with several chasers held up at the base of the climb where Hagenes attacked. He was far from a lucky winner, though, given his strength in the attack and margin of victory.
"I knew the hill was quite nice but there were a lot of strong guys who could have kept my wheel, but I had a bit of good luck that the other guys crashed. It's not nice when your competitors crash but today it was like that," he said.
"Of course, it was beneficial for me, but in Trento I did a shit corner in a critical moment but now it was some other guys. You have to handle the corners to be able to win. It's sad when people crash but it's part of racing and it happens to the best of us."
Hagenes, who thanks his teammates for their work earlier in the race, including helping to bridge the gap to a dangerous attack move, will join up with Dutch squad Jumbo-Visma next year, making the move to their Continental development team.
He signed a two-year deal with the team back in July, and went on to have an impressive August, winning the Course de la Paix, the Nation's Cup stage race in Hungary, and taking second in the Aubel-Thiminster-Stavelot stage race.
He'll have hopes of linking up with fellow Norwegians Tobias Foss and Amund Grøndahl Jansen in future but said that he's happy to progress gradually to the WorldTour rather than jump straight to the top tier.
"I started quite early this year and I'm happy with signing. You can go professional [directly from the junior ranks] but for me I think it's better to take the steps more gradually because I don't feel ready to go to the WorldTour even though I've had good results in the juniors," he said.
"I think when you're a junior you can develop in many different ways, and you don't have to be a specific rider type. I'd like to be a Classics guy, but we'll see how I progress and what type of rider I turn out to be."
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.
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