Yesterday was surely one of the finest days for Norwegian cycling, with a stage win for Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Thor Hushovd, the yellow jersey wearer, finishing third. As there’s only two Norwegians in the race, that’s not bad. And with Contador’s various misfortunes added on, I am having a very good Tour so far…
Indeed, there have been plenty of discussion points. Alberto Contador is already over a minute behind the main contenders, which should make for some explosive mountain stages. Mark Cavendish has continued his incredible winning streak, this time even more impressively so, as he wasn’t able to rely much on his lead-out train for his win on stage 5. He has contested the intermediate sprints too, in a competition which may well have been changed in order to disadvantage him. And what exactly is Garmin Cervelo’s tactics for the green jersey? Thor Hushovd is slowly climbing his way up the leader board, even whilst the stated aim is to win it for Tyler Farrar. I predict a change of approach (though that might just be my national pride speaking).
Meanwhile, Norwegian papers are now likening Boasson Hagen to Eddy Mercx, which is only slightly less incredible than the fact that Boasson Hagen had never heard of the cycling legend before 2008. He hadn’t been particularly inspired by Hushovd either, in his formative years, which is also somewhat odd, as he is the only Norwegian to have one more than one TDF stage, let alone any jerseys. He’s a fast learner, then. Indeed, he showed his inexperience on stage 5, when he miscalculated the finishing line by several hundred metres, and thus attacked too early. He joked that the subsequent ribbing he got from the peloton would now be turned to congratulations, which was reward enough in itself.
But whilst Boasson Hagen’s win generated no end of national pride in the Norwegian part of the household, there was plenty of merriment in the English contingent too.
‘Have you see what his father is called?’ Simon asked. ‘Odd Erik!’
And that was the end to all sensible conversation.