Boasson Hagen and Boom top preliminary start list
To weeks before the start of Tour des Fjords the teams submitted their preliminary line-ups. The top names on this brutto list are Norwegian champion Edvald Boasson Hagen and Dutch Tour de France-stage winner Lars Boom.
The teams’ comprehensive rider selections can still be subject to change until the day before the race kicks off in Sogn and Fjordane on May 24. The preliminary start list is topped by Norwegian allrounder Edvald Boasson Hagen with his team Dimension Data, who could follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner and fellow countryman Alexander Kristoff. Boasson Hagen had previously finished 7th overall two years ago in what has been his only Tour des Fjords participation so far, also winning the final stage. He will amongst others receive support from Mark Cavendish’s lead out man Mark Renshaw, who returns to racing after an injury at Scheldeprijs in early April.
One of Hagen’s contenders could be Dutch Tour de France-stage winner and former cyclo-cross world champion Lars Boom. Boom is starting his Tour de France preparation at Tour des Fjords and tops the list for Lotto NL-Jumbo. The roster of the WorldTour team also includes Norwegian youngster Amund Grøndahl Jansen in his first season with the Dutch outlet. This year, the 23-year old has already ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this year and will be the team’s designated sprinter, aiming for a stage win.
Another strong Dutch rider with overall ambitions is team Roompot’s Pieter Weening, former Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia stage winner and overall winner at the Tour of Norway 2016. Belgian talent factory Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise is bringing the national champion of 2015, Preben Van Hecke, while Veranda’s Willems bets on the sprinting abilities of Aidis Kruopis, surprise stage winner at the Tour of Norway 2012. Besides Boasson Hagen, the only other rider on the start list who has been victorious at the Tour des Fjords before is Belgian Jerome Baugnies of Wanty-Groupe Gobert: In 2014, the 30-year old outsprintet Alexander Kristoff and Sondre Holst Enger in the opening stage from Bergen to Ulvik. Also two strong Danish riders are part of the preliminary line-ups: Team VeloConcept is coming with 22-year old talent Kasper Asgreen, winner of this year’s GP Viborg, while Riwal Platform counts on veteran Chris Anker Sørensen, Giro d’Italia stage winner and overall 14th at the Tour de France 2012.
is more open than ever before
Tour des Fjords will also feature all five Norwegian Continental Teams with their top names: Joker Icopal is spearheaded by last year’s Tour de France participant Vegard Breen and Kristoffer Skjerping, who this year returned from WorldTour team Cannondale. Team Coop, based right next to the finish line of stage 4 in Sandnes, features the names of Fredrik Strand Galta and August Jensen, fourth of last weekend’s Ringerike Grand Prix.
Event director Roy Hegreberg expects an open race and surprises for the Norwegian fans: “As it looks by now, Edvald Boasson Hagen is the man to beat. But it is will be a tough fight, and I think we will see some other strong, young Norwegian riders taking their chances in front of an international audience. The competition this year is more open than ever before. This will make for exciting racing on a course that promotes offensive riding.”
The fifth edition of Tour des Fjords starts on Wednesday, May 24, in Balestrand and ends on May 28 in Stavanger. 19 of the participating teams are confirmed so far, with one more WorldTour team to be presented next week. One last slot is still reserved the Norwegian national team. “It is still our goal to have as many of the best Norwegian riders at the race, and we will work hard for this as long as there is even the slightest chance”, says Hegreberg.