LEUVEN / OSLO (VG) Alexander Kristoff (34) never managed to get involved in the close match in the WC. Instead, Markus Hoelgaard (26) showed why he can become Norway’s new cycling star.
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He was the only Norwegian to take part in the gold match when Julian Alaphilippe (29) defended the World Cup gold in Belgium.
– I am very proud and happy with the way I drove, until that group left at the end. I felt like my opportunity was slipping at that moment. The hope was to fight for a top five position. He had the legs for that, Hoelgaard tells VG in Leuven.
– Did you seem to have more to go on?
– Yeah. When they left, it got a little tactical. I was a bit hesitant. It’s disappointing, says the Uno X driver.
Hoelgaard will race for the great Trek-Segafredo team next season. They are located at the highest level of cycling, the World Tour.
– Was this the race of your life?
– Yes. I agree with that, it is absolutely perfect until there are 15 kilometers left. I am in the shape of my life, but in the end I made a mistake that cost me dearly. It bothers me. But that’s my fault, he says.
In Belgium there is also Gino van Oudenhove, who led the Norwegian team in the World Cup.
– When you look at the names around Markus in the hit list, this is just fantastic. There is no reason to be disappointed, he tells the VG reporter.
Van Oudenhove still understands why Hoelgaard was a bit upset with himself – Danish Michael Valgren was the man they talked about before the World Cup race. If Valgren tried to escape, the Norwegian would follow.
And Valgren left and formed a group of four when everything had to be decided. But Hoelgaard remained seated.
– That I didn’t follow him when he left, it’s just a shame. I was pretty tired, and then you tend to be a little more indecisive. I also saw that Italy was not there, and then I bet on it. It’s disappointing. But overall, I must be happy with the race, the 26-year-old tells VG.
After a tough ride, a group of 17 cyclists entered the destination city of Leuven for the last two laps. Towards the end of the penultimate round, Julian attacked Alaphilippe and quickly got a good hatch.
The Frenchman, who also won the joint World Cup start in 2020, stayed away in the final round and achieved his second World Cup gold. Thus, in Australia next year he will have the opportunity to do like Peter Sagan, who won the joint World Cup exit three years in a row from 2015 to 2017.
In the battle for the other medals, a group of four runners got away, and in the race, Dutchman Dylan van Baarle won silver just ahead of Dane Michael Valgren.
Hoelgaard tried to collide with the group on the last lap but never made a full recovery and was picked up by several drivers again towards the end. The Norwegian finished in twelfth place, 1.18 behind Alaphilippe.
– I’m happy with a lot, but I’m a bit disappointed not to be with that group. There are groups that I try to find, but I was a bit hesitant when they left. It was a golden opportunity to be in the top five. I’m proud of what I do today, Hoelgaard tells TV 2 after the race. Hoelgaard became number seven in the European Championship two weeks ago.
Alexander Kristoff won the sprint for 21st place, 6.27 minutes behind Alaphilippe.
He cycled past the VG reporter in the press area after the race, but was interviewed on TV 2. When asked if he was disappointed, Kristoff relied on the answer.
– Yes, a little, but actually I was in the group I was hoping to sit in. I was hoping it was a bit more of a reunion, but now everyone was happy when the best got off, says Kristoff.
Alexander Kristoff (34) was named leader of the Norwegian national team during the joint outing of the men’s World Cup in Belgium. The Norwegian had been in the top eight in the last five joint World Cup starts he had run, with silver at home in Bergen in 2017 as his best result, before Sunday’s race.
Rogalendingen has had a turbulent season, but has shown signs of moving up to the World Cup. However, there was another rogalending that was going to play the lead role on Sunday.
Already 180 kilometers from the end, the first attacks came from the big teams. Norway was represented by Markus Hoelgaard in that group, and Rasmus Tiller in a dangerous new break that left with nine miles to play. Tiller had to drop the group with 66 kilometers remaining, and with just under 60 kilometers remaining, the big favorites set the pace on the cobbled Bekestraat. At the top, Hoelgaard made his way to the group and thus obtained a ticket to the gold match, where Julian Alaphilippe proved to be the strongest.