Uno-X will ride the women’s Tour de France, but hope is fading for a place in the men’s edition.
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This week, the European cycling season starts in earnest, and for the Norwegian Uno-X team, Sunday’s GP will be la Marseillaise’s first race of the year.
If everything goes as the team hopes, there will be a number of French races during the season. They have already received an invitation to the famous classic race Paris-Roubaix – one of cycling’s five “monuments”, and team manager Jens Haugland still has a hope that they will also be on the starting line in Copenhagen when the Tour de France starts in the Danish capital on July 1. .
– We think we deserve it, but I respect that others do not think so, Haugland says to VG.
At the same time, he adds that he has doubts that they will actually receive an invitation to this year’s Tour de France.
– I do not think we are there now, but if there is one thing I have learned in this sport, it is that things can happen, Haugland says.
A ride Uno-X is ready for is the Saudi Tour, which starts on February 1, a ride organized by Tour de France organizer ASO. Earlier this month, the Norwegian team got criticism from Amnesty for the planned participation in the race.
Haugland says that they understand that the criticism is coming, and asked if the participation is a necessary “flirtation” with ASO to strengthen the Tour de France chances, he answers:
– We are confident that we get the invitations we deserve based on our identity and our achievements.
The invitations to several of the season’s biggest races have not been announced yet, but Uno-X has already received invitations to the aforementioned Paris-Roubaix, the monumental classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Flèche Wallonne, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Volta a Catalunya at WorldTour level.
– It is not surprising that the invitations come, but it is also very hard for a Norwegian team to beat more local teams. It is completely in place, but it is just as impressive, says Discovery’s cycling expert Henrik Evensen.
– It is a recognition of what we have done and are doing. It is the Champions League by bike, simply, says Haugland about the invitations.
Like Haugland, Evensen believes that it will be tough to get a place in the men’s Tour de France for Uno-X this year. However, Evensen is very impressed with the way the Uno-X system has built up in recent years.
In 2022, Uno-X has a newly started team for women, which goes straight to the top level. On the men’s side, there is both a professional team and a development team. Tobias Halland Johannessen drove for the latter in 2021, but the winner of the “youth’s Tour de France” – Tour de l’Avenir – is now ready for the professional team.
– I think this will be the funniest and toughest season Uno-X has had so far. I’m really looking forward to getting started and getting to know a little about the level of the WorldTour. I know that there will be many steps up in terms of level for me at least, but I think there are opportunities to come up with something fun in several races, he says to VG.
The team manager believes Tobias and his twin brother Anders have shown that on good days they are “world class”.
– It is indisputable, but their challenge is to be stable and have continuity over time. They are very great talents that we must manage in a good way, says Haugland.