Much like a Super Bowl MVP, there is traditionally one pressing question for the winner of the under-23 road race at the UCI Road World Championships: "What's next?" More often than not, the answer is that the rainbow jersey is going to the relative Disneyland of the WorldTour, but 2016 champion Kristoffer Halvorsen is set to buck that trend. The Norwegian told reporters in Doha on Thursday afternoon that he is set to remain for at least another season with Continental outfit Team Joker–Byggtorget.
Joker – formerly Maxbo-Bianchi – is, of course, the same nursery that produced Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff, and, still only 20 years of age, Halvorsen sees no reason to accelerate his development simply because of the rainbow bands on his chest.
If there was more than a hint of Kristoff about the ferocity of Halvorsen's winning sprint, which saw him hold off Pascal Ackermann (Germany) and Jakub Mareczko (Italy) in the finishing straight, he dispenses his words in post-race interviews as parsimoniously as Boasson Hagen.
"First of all, I will ride for Team Joker, the same team as this year," Halvorsen said simply when asked to outline his plans for the 2017 campaign, which will end, of course, with a World Championships on home roads in Norway. "We have a good national team set-up too, and I will ride the Worlds in Bergen next year."
Halvorsen gave an early signal of pedigree in 2016 by placing second at Nokere Koerse, and fourth overall at a competitive ZLM Toer. More recently, victory against a complement of Pro Continental sprinters at the GP d'Isbergues and two stage wins at the Olympia's Tour marked the Norwegian out as the man to beat in Doha, and so it proved.
From the outset, his Norwegian team was prominent in controlling the peloton and keeping tabs on the nine-man break of the day, which was pegged back in the final lap.
"The pressure was high because of the work the team did for me, but I think it was a good thing. The team did a great job, so it was perfect to be the first over the finish line," Halvorsen said. "The plan was to do a good sprint. I was on the German team's wheels in the final kilometres.
"I'm just so, so happy. The course was perfect for me, it was flat with a lot of corners, it was a big goal for me this year. It's incredible. My dream now is to win the elite world title, too."
Halvorsen is the third Norwegian to win the under-23 road race at the World Championships, after Kurt Asle Arvesen in San Sebastian in 1997 and Sven Erik Bystrom two years ago in Ponferrada, though he cited the 1998 under-23 time trial champion – and 2010 elite men's champion – as his model as a young rider.
"Thor Hushovd was my idol," Halvorsen said. "I would like to be good like him in the future."
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