Written by Don Hamstre of Schiavi di Don
Even the best careers come to an end at some point. In what will hopefully be a series of articles, I will speak to Legends of OCM whose career has reached its final destination, the retirement home.
My very first guest is (currently) the number one overall points scorer in OCM History, it’s the one and only Aleksander Hetland!
I met up with him in an online meeting, and he was kind enough to answer all of my questions during the course of an hour.
Have fun getting to know the man behind the legend!
Hi Aleksander, it is a great honor to be taking your retirement interview. I will start with getting to know a little more about you background. Where did you grow up?
"I grew up in the municipality of Sandnes, on the hills of Hana at the east side of Sandnes. I had to ride a steep hill up to my parents house from my school."
A very beautiful area, I have had the pleasure of visiting it shortly myself in 2016, and did a great hike there. The view over Stavanger and Sandnes was amazing! Moving on to the later stages of your youth, when and why did you start cycling?
"Although it is now time for me to hang up my wheels as a professional bike racer, the bike has been everything to me from a young age. I started to ride my bike at the age of 8. From racing around the country with my mates, to riding tours and winning classics. I have grown up in the sport and it has been some journey to get me to where I am today. I have a lot of stories, and an awful lot of good memories."
We will definitely get back to those stories later. :) But before moving on to your career, what was your favorite bike ride when young?
"There wasn't many hill races around in my youth, so I have to say a local race in the Forus area. A circuit race in between office buildings, so I guess here is where I learned to handle the bike as well as I do."
Time to finally talk about your life in the OCM world. How did you end up at Team WonderDee?
"I was not the biggest talent at young age, and not
many did see my talent. But luckily I got the opportunity to join the WonderDee academy at the age of 16."
What do you remember from your very first OCM Race, and what was the first moment you realized that you had the potential to be one of the best in the game?
"My first race was the U23 race Tyinkrysset - Juvasshytta. A tough race with lot of hard climbs. But the view at Juvasshytta was worth it in the end. So if you find yourself in Norway, you should pay yourself a visit to the cabin.
Winning Lappi Sea GP in my second year as a pro made me realize I had the potential for something bigger ahead."
It's very obvious that you had a great time in Lappi Sea GP, winning it three times. What is it about Finland that makes you feel so good?
"My wife is Finnish, and Lappi Sea GP had a perfect spot in my training/race schedule. Coming from tight schedule with Cymru Taith and Nuoro GP, and then 10 days with rest and some training before Lappi Sea GP was a winning formula for me "
Love is always a great motivation! Great that you had the opportunity to share your greatest of moments with the one closest to you. What do you see as the absolute highlight of your career?
"Winning Lappi Sea GP three times will always stand out as a great achievement for me"
What do you see as an achievement that you are very proud of but is less well known?
"Not sure if this is less known, but winning Bagno di Bomagna GP ten times. And my last time was last season at the age of 39. Also winning the first Sprint Classification at Vuelta a Valparaìso was a big surprise. I did study the route before hand, and I did see an opportunity for me to win it ahead of the sprinters and the GC riders."
A Classic like Lappi, a regular season race like Bagno di Bomagna, and a Tour like Valparaiso. You have proven to be able to perform in all. But what kind of race did you enjoy most?
"I’ll cherish the racing memories, including riding the Cymru Taith 11 times, along with other tours like the Kangaroo Tour and Vuelta a Valparaìso. The tours are the pinnacle and a true test to yourself and what this sport is all about – a
But, as you know, I loved the Classics, too, and was lucky enough to have some success, to go with the fun that those challenges threw at us. Starting Lappi Sea GP 16 times, and finishing 14 times in the top 9, is a stat that in particular I’m incredibly proud of. It’s a race that I absolutely love."
A retirement interview isn't complete without taking a look at the less fun parts of a career. What do you consider as your lowpoint?
"I always had a dream of winning the road world title since I was a kid, and I never came close to winning my home classic, Bergen Rundtur. But my biggest lowpoint was losing the overall rank to Roland Perk on the line in season 45. I had a perfect season all the way to the last three races, I had never finished outside top 9 in any of the one day races I participated in. But then I lost my form and ended with a 11th in Eryri Classic, 12th in Bordeaux-Toulouse and 16th in Kentucky Moonshine Race. So in the end I lost the overall rank with 126 points to Perk."
Of course it is always important to end on a high note. ANy last words of gratitude that you want to share with us?
"I want to thank the WonderDee family, riders and support staff alike, who have always been close to me, as a rider and as a man. I'll always have a "lion" on my heart.
Having the opportunity to ride with some of the greatest riders in the sport, like Royce Dodemaide and Armando Silveira, has been an incredible privilege. I have made friends for life and travelled the world living my dream but it's now time to take the next step of my journey,"
Dear readers and listeners, this has been the Great Aleksander Hetland! What an amazing human being, and of course one of the greatest riders ever to be seen in the OCM world! Many thanks to him for agreeing to this interview, and his manager Christian for allowing me to speak to him. I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Aleksander The Great!
In honor of his career, a brand new race has been added to Division two. Aleksander Hetlands Æresritt takes place around his home town of Sandnes, and will be perfect for any rider that strives to be as great as the Legend himself.
Did you once manage a Legend of the Game, and would like to see an interview with him on front page? Contact The Don!