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National championship 2021
« on: June 20, 2021, 23:20 »
I couldn't find a thread for this, but I have spent the evening catching up on the road race national championships here in Norway. Only the men's race- No time for me to watch the women's race which was earlier in the day, this time

Apparently the ladies had quite fair weather while the men faced pouring rain all day except for in the first lap.
Already at the start (more or less) a water bottle on the loose caused one of the main protagonists, #uae Aleksander Kristoff to abandon with damage to his foot after that bottle found precisely his front wheel in the middle of the peloton.

To some degree it looked like this was handing the race to the numerically superior #unox Uno-x team, as there now was no match for the Kristiansand hometown hero, Kristoffer Halvorsen, for the sprint. All they needed to do was to keep it together to the end and the win would be almost certain. The red and yellow were fielding a mega-squad (they seemed to count 1/3 of the peloton in much of the race) so there wouldn't be a shortage of domestiques. I watched from about 100km to the start of the Gimlekollen climb second-to-last time (some 50-60 km out) and there was always Uno-x at the front of the peloton. It looked as if they were set to control everything, but the weather and the distance.

Then suddenly, from out of nowhere, #unox upped the pace on the climb. Most likely this was because some of the other favorites were observed at the back of the peloton, and Uno-x masterfully created a gap between themselves and a handful of other riders, with many smaller groups trailing. The riders caught out by this move included #uae Sven Erik Bystrøm and several of his #coop "buddies" (some "cohesion" between pro riders and their old team/club and or between the pro riders has always been part of the game at the nationals here, I don't know what it is like in other places.)

There were few good domestiques in the chase group, if not counting Bystrøm himself who is, after all, quite good at that game compared to most of the other national riders. He managed to close the gap and rejoin the peloton after some 10 km but that wasn't going to help him too much in the end.  He said he hit "something" in the road, not sure what, and fell, sliding and hitting a pole with his back and his head. He was taken to the hospital - and I don't have details of his condition. He did not look to good at the aid station,  like he had suffered a concussion or something.  That was all of #uae out of the race..

There's definetly a generation change coming up in Norwgian cycling. Kristoff and Boasson Hagen have been favorites at every national race they have entered for - 12 years? - now.  They are still around, but both #uae and #tde would be out of sight when the race was decided. The final lap up Gimlekollen, a smaller group was formed, but now, where was the control of #unox Uno-x? The brave underdogs in #coop Coop attacked, and suddenly there were only a few Uno-x riders in the select group, but the pro's weren't all gone. Both Team DSM #dsm with Andreas Leknessund and #jumbo with Tobias Foss were there.  Both had performed excellently in their last races with #dsm Leknessund fighting for the #white jersey in the Tour de Suisse until the final day when their doomed early attack folded on the entry slopes to the Gotthardpass in Airolo. #jumbo Foss would have had some more time to recover after his 9th place GC in the Giro this May. He smashed the resitance in the ITT championship earlier this week, winning by more than a minute and also setting a new national record time for 50 km time trial. However, there was also another #jumbo rider in Johannes Staune Mittet from the #jumbo developmeent team. What #unox couldn't do with a dozen riders, #jumbo set up with two. Staune Mittet was everywhere, closing gaps, following small groups on the attack while slowly draining their will to do work. All while captain Foss was riding smoothly in the group. When the group was split again, there was only 4 riders left and Staune Mittet was in the second group, now following every move (very many!) doing an excellent job as police chief. The race was to be decided between #dsm Leknessund, #coop Aasvold, #unox Anders Skaarseth and #jumbo Tobias Foss.

The small group quickly built a comfortable lead to the chasers. From there it was a mix of sections with disciplioned collaboration and sections with attacks and attacks. Fatigue was becoming quite obvious even on the rain-soaked cameral lenses. Except Foss just kept looking stronger and stronger. At 6 km to go he slipped across the road and none of the others made an effort to follow him, they resigned collectively and started racing for 2nd place instead.
It is very rare in Norway that the ITT and the road race title goes to the same person. Knud Knudsen, Tor hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen are among those that have achieved it. Anders Skaarseth won the sprint for 2nd place with #coop Aasvold taking the bronze. Leknessund completed #dsm team DSM's collection of "bitter 4th places" for the day.

So, the lessons learned - the nationals are different due to the regular tactics being messed up by some teams showing up in large numbers while the best riders usually have no team. #unox Uno-x enjoys the numerical superiority, but they still aren't trained to exploit it in the way that #quickstep would do: put a dangerous roleur on the attack, make sure one of your fast finisheres and a domestique are in group2. Let the others burn. #jumbo made it work with only 2 riders...

Turns out they have been having a field day and there may be races this fall where only 3 riders on the team will wear the bee-hide black and yellow, while the rest will be wearing national champ jerseys. And Tobias Foss isn't a pure GC rider - if he keeps this rate of progress there may be medals comping up. It is the captain for the *no squad in Tokyo I am talking about.

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  • « Last Edit: June 21, 2021, 09:22 by LukasCPH »


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