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Kristoff: Boasson Hagen and I will work as one unit at Worlds

One of the most talked about incidents after last year's elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Doha was the lack of tactical collaboration between Norwegians Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff.

As Peter Sagan raised his hands in victory in the Qatari desert, the Norwegian contenders cut forlorn figures in sixth and seventh place, after failing to work together.

This time around, with the Worlds taking place on home soil, Norway expects a better performance, if not a result. The Bergen course arguably suits Boasson Hagen more than Kristoff, with the punchy climbs set to wear down the peloton as they race close to 280 kilometres.

Kristoff, a winner in both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, is no stranger in triumphing in long-distance events but he comes into this year's race as many experts' second pick for leadership within the Norwegian camp.

"For sure I know the plan, and for sure I think that it's a good plan. It's going to work fine," he told Cyclingnews earlier this week.

"I don't think it's a good idea to share the tactic with the media, so no hints," the European road champion added with a hint of a smile.

As for last year's fiasco in Doha, Kristoff brushed off the incident and pointed to the European Championships in August where he claimed the title after help from Boasson Hagen.

"It didn't really work last year but then it worked quite well at the European Championships and that's what people should remember, rather than last year. I think we have a good plan, and everyone agrees on it. We're going to race as a unit."

The demanding nature of the course should ensure that even the most powerful teams are reduced to just one or two riders at the pointy end of the race. Such a scenario could see either Kristoff or Boasson Hagen sacrifice his chance for the other.

"Maybe we must do that if it comes to it but we have a better chance if we have more cards to play. The tactics depend on the race and it's going to be unlikely that we both come to the finish in the same group. It's a hard race and on the profile, it suits Edvald better than me because of the climb but we'll see. I'm also good at the long races."

Despite racing on home roads – it is the first time since 1993 that the Norwegians have hosted Worlds – Kristoff doesn't think that he and his teammates will be pressured into making the race. The fact is that they have two genuine cards to play so a gung-ho approach in order to please the crowds is not a necessity. Such a tactic could even harm their chances of a medal.

"I don't think that we have the team to make the race. We have nine riders but we don't have nine WorldTour riders in the line-up but we can maybe anticipate and Edvald and I are strong riders so we can be there. We're not the main favourites, maybe we're even outsiders but there are other teams that are stronger than us for sure.

"The form is okay and I feel quite good. I'll have some good training rides and then we'll see.

"For sure it's nice racing in Norway but I don't think that it gives me an advantage because it's not my hometown and I don't really know the roads better than other people but to be in Norway is special and I'm looking forward to Sunday. I think that we have a good team so maybe a medal is within reach."

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.