Written by Don Hamstre of Schiavi di Don
Starting a day on the Lofoten is always a good thing. Even when you are preparing yourself for a week of suffering. No surprise then, that most of the teams that signed up for Norway Tour have decided to arrive here early. I managed to speak with most of them on a tour through the local hotels and bars. I asked them the obvious questions, who their captain is, what their goal is for the tour, what their favourite country apart from Norway is, and because the deciding TT is in Bergen, what the worst case of rain they experienced was.
Captain: Eric Uba
Goal: Green jersey and one stage victory
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Scotland
Worst case of rain: Can't specify one particular case.
Uba comes in Top Form, and his support should enable him to score points in the hilly stages as well. A true competitor for the SC.
Captain: Everaldo Valderrama
Goal: It would be great to get a top10, but usually Everaldo drowns in this kind of tours
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): I love Portugal (and the Cycling Simulator Tour they have :-))
Worst case of rain: I live at the North of Spain. Raining here is part of our culture ;-)
Definitely and advantage to be used to rain. Valderrama should do very well in the TT in Bergen as well, but it would for sure be a surprise if he could hang on to a GC top-9 in the climbing stages. Volta is definitely more suited to this guy though, so not surprised about the love for it from Lencko.
Captain: Augustin Hofman
Goal: Hoping for a top 9 on gc with top 3 yc (if he’s in it).
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): USA
Worst case of rain: Love a bit of rain. Never had a bad experience!
The good news is that Hofman does indeed qualify for the YC. The bad news is that there is some competition in good form, so the Czech will have to give all he has to finish on the desired YC podium. The mountains are where he needs no make his move, as he is likely to lose some time in the TT’s.
Navarone Cycling Team
Captain: Lieuwe Oosterhof
Goal: I want stage victories, good placements and a green jersey if no top sprinter is in top form. As usual no resources devoted to GC. If low form is an issue, I'll try to hunt stages with Thorn or whatever rider fits the stage profile most.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Funny question because I hate my team country, asked Nick to change it to either Catalonia or Andorra, but no answer. To the point of the question, from the cycling point of view, Belgium is my favourite country, I love the kind of riders it produces.
Worst case of rain: Once I had to take my car to work against my will (I always commute by train), which took like 3h due to heavy traffic. In the noon GF told me our parking lot was flooded due to heavy rain, so this was a real lucky coincidence.
I hope the team bus survived the flooded parking lot as well! If not, it won’t be essential in Norway anyway, because driving all the way from the Lofoten to Oslo can take a while, so it’s probably more efficient to just rent some hotel rooms. My network in Bergen should have some available. ;)
Oosterhof is one of the strongest overall sprinters of this tour, so he might not even need top form to win the SC. If the goal would be stage hunting, than I would be very surprised if the team didn’t win a stage in this tour.
Captain: Lincoln Hannity
Goal: In edition 19 Hannity came 4th on GC and won the YC in TF. In edition 20 Hannity came 5th without TF. The hope this time is for a podium position and to compete for the GC title.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): The team's most success has come in USA where we've picked up 5 victories and 722 points. My favourite country is probably one of: Ireland/San Marino/Canada
Worst case of rain: Worst rain is probably hail, that stuff's painful to be in
Ireland, San Marino and Canada. That must be one of the weirdest combination of western countries possible. But apart from pineapple-country, I tend to agree. San Marino is a very good place to do my laundry, and Ireland has always been a very good place to pay my taxes, so I love both of them!
Hannity is one of the strongest Tour riders in the game, and with his history of relative success here at a young age, hje should definitely be able to compete for the podium now that his age is closer to peak performance.
Qvibra Pro Cyclingte
Captain: Ola Granat
Goal: Going for GC. Better than last season (7th) would be OK. Better than my previous best (4th, season 7) would be a good result. Hoping for some stage result with my TT rider. And hoping for 1 point increase from the trainers to my Avg 54,375 (not TT centered) rider, so he turns in to avg 55
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Italy. Because of the food and climate!
Worst case of rain: Ehh? Not a rain but frozen water on the street that made it possible to go ice-skating on the roads.?
Frozen streets would make a very interesting Norway Tour as well I think. Shame it’s not cold enough yet, even as northerly as we are right now. But my frozen heart is melted by the enthusiasm about Italy. A rider getting AV55 without TT-center sounds incredibly scary, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing from that guy in a future tour as well. In this one, Granat should have a chance at the podium, but he would need some luck, because the competition is tough.
Captain: Jean de Dieu Nyirabarame
Goal: I wanted to go for SC in tf, but with Lijun around I am just going for some top 9 in the sprint stages and probably keep the tf.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Lithuania
Worst case of rain: Wet Rain.
Personally I would be more annoyed by dry rain, ashes never tend to be a very healthy thing to breathe in.
Without a doubt the best sounding name of any captain in this tour, but the SC is packed with other great riders, so hunting for stages sounds like the best strategy indeed.
Goal: I want to challenge for the win on one of the climbing stages
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Croatia
Worst case of rain: The Lake District in the UK is always good for getting rained on when on the mtb.
Bertelsen has the experience that comes with a 34-year old, and is one of the best pure climbers in the pack. He is however, also a Dane, so he will definitely struggle to adapt to the Norwegian nature. Let’s hope he trained in the Lake District as well, because otherwise he might not recover from the shock of seeing actual wildlife.
Captain: Wessel Koremans
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Luxembourg
Worst case of rain: Not Specified
I am sure that the only reason for having Luxembourg as his favourite country is that he could get away with hiring a rider from Luxembourg in his all-Dutch squad because nobody would notice the flag difference. Koremans is a very young and promising rider, but it will be tough to win the YC without TF. Even tougher because Koremans is already too old for it. Maybe the commissioners will overlook his age though. ;)
Captain: Still not sure about my tactics for this one...
Uzun Haluk for sure will be Captain #1, going for stages and trying to win SC after Season 18 success and then it will be between Geert, Theo or Justin to lead for GC (and YC for Theo).
Goal: A podium in either one of the classifications would be good, probably more realisticly the SC podium with Uzun Haluk.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): The Netherlands, lived there and love the amazing flats.
Worst case of rain: Some heavy rains combined with high tide in the river, lead to huge floodings in my hometown where I had water at waist level!
The last time I heard something about someone having water at waist level, Niccolo Maffia was involved. I hope more people got away unhurt in this case...
A very diverse squad of riders. Haluk, being a former winner, is an outsider for the SC, because he will try to score big in the TT’s. The hills might cost him in the end, but he will definitely compete.
Mark Pro Team
Captain: Hu Lijun. Two times former winner of the Sprint Classification in Norway Tour.
Goal: - Win the Sprint Classification.
- Become the first rider to win it 3 times.
- Become the first team to win it 4 times.
- Win stages.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): - Palestine (would switch to an Arabic (Levant) team the moment the country is added).
Worst case of rain: - Rain of fire would be the worst case, luckily never experienced that. Rain generally suits my team!
I’ve named a few SC competitors already, but of course Hu Lijun has to be the favourite to win it. He could become an absolute legend of this tour. With Top Form and a full team in support, who can stop him?
Captain: Owen Berry
Goal: First time in this tour, top 9 will be great!
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Ireland
Worst case of rain: In my first trip to Manchester
An Italian team without any Italians signed up, but I can forgive him for that, because he has brought a full team of climbers, and should be able to go all out on the climbing stages. Beery is one of those riders that could finish in the top-5 when lucky , but also outside of the top-9 when unlucky. Let’s hope lady luck is on his side!
Captain: I have two captains. Demy Alards will focus on the TT (saving energy in other stages, with one HH-race as exeption). It would be awesome to win the first stage with him. Hans Berglund (Norway!!) will be the CL-captain.
Goal: A result in GC is very unlikely but a top 9 in one of the CL-stages would be great.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Netherlands! But I have a weak spot for Norse captains. Before Berglund Sivertsen (now Andeby) was my captain.
Worst case of rain: Ehmm, being 50km from home on a granny-bike sucked with the rain pouring down.
Cycling 50km in the rain on a granny-bike sounds like it would be the perfect way to prepare for the Norwegian conditions!
Berglund is a uniquely gifted climber, but will his home advantage be enough to carry him through the tt and make him finish in the top-9 overall? Probably not, but we can be sure he’ll try his best to make his supporters proud.
Captain: Xalbador Altamirano is my captain and he will try his best in SP stages. And of course, Juguslav in TT stages.
Goal: mentioned above
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): France
Worst case of rain: last year when i come back from Budva (MN), with my car, in last 300km....after another 450km trip in same day.
Driving for 300kms through the rain still beats cycling 300kms through the train though! And our riders will definitely reach that number during Norway Tour. Jugoslav seems to be the best time trialer in the tour, so there is definitely success possible for the team. Xalbador would need to surprise in order to get a podium on a stage, but who knows what he can do?
Captain: Besse is my captain, and if he fails, im in for my young hiller
Goal: top 9 with Besse, else it would a disapointment
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): England
Worst case of rain: Purple Rain, or else i cant remember ;), but in Denmark its raining all the time lol
It took a while, but here’s the winner of the ‘joke that everyone expected’ award! The worst thing is it still made me laugh. I love to be proven wrong, but I’m afraid that Besse won’t be able to finish in the top-9 with his lack of time trial skill. Stage results are definitely a possibility though.
Captain: It's either humberto or raul. Havent done extensive research yet as i'm residing in Italy at the moment. There is this chap that needs to bring a suitcase of money to Switzerland. It consumes my energy at the moment.
Goal: Go home with some jersey. We need to have some
fabric for blinds in our headquarter. Our beloved government doesnt wish to sponsor more as we are sorta high maintenance already according to them. We are not so decadent, we just desire good food and entertainment at the Efteling.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Georgia because kim kardashian isn’t from there.
Worst case of rain: Not that much that i would really remember. This year though in a few minutes cycling i was completely soaked. No apocalyptic stories unfortunately.
Before offering a good deal on some second hand, barely worn, only slightly stained jerseys, let’s have a look at what the team has to offer in case of GC contenders. Hmm, the defending champion and a guy that one two YC’s last season. Not so great right?
Nooky should probably send his riders to Kardashian as a punishment if they don’t come home with a podium.
Designa Legends PPDB
Captain: I'll be stage hunting with Leopoldo Osório in the mountains and Lucca Ublue in the sprints. If the TTs go well for Zami Che Omar I might switch captain.
Goal: mentioned above
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): My favourite country is Austria. I love the mountains and lakes.
Worst case of rain: Monsoon in Northern Thailand
In his youth in Malaysia Zami Che Omar was very much used to monsoons as well, but will he able to cope with the constant slightly more than comfortable drizzle that Norwegian weather can offer? He is one of the most unique riders in OCM, and should on paper be a great Tour contender. Will this be the moment he finally delivers?
Captain: Heiko Hermans
Goal: A top 9 in GC with a top 3 result in one or more stages.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Italy
Worst case of rain: I can’t remember it...so not that worse.
Another Italy aficionado, and with Heiko Hermans he has a captain that very much reminds me of my good old Cosma Giron. So my support is in! He might struggle to get a top-9, because of the strength of the field, but he’s definitely in with a chance. Tijn de Jong should also be able to score the team some points in the TT’s.
Captain: Helge Hjelle
Goal: One stage win
Favourite Country (apart from Norway): Spain
Worst case of rain: Not Specified
The only team from Norway, and a Norwegian captain. His stats are intriguing. Unfortunately I’m not sure if they actually fit any of the stages very well. WIth a good day, he could get a top-9 in any of the stages except the TT, but with normal days, he looks to me like he would be just outside of them.
Captain: Erwin Szewczyk
Goal: top 9 in all 3 CL stages
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Thailand
Worst case of rain: at a picnic in a forest
Even though the rain will be the same, Norway Tour will be nothing like a picnic in the forest. Szewczykj is an excellent climber, and a top-9 in all 3 cl stages would be the least that I expect of him. I wouldn’t be surprised with 1 or two podium finishes. Such a shame he is not made for time trials.
Captain: My captain Bas-Jan van Putten in top form (fingers crossed). Végeir Þórleifursson will be a luxury helper and the second captain if BJP get an injury.
Goal: The goal is the GC podium.
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): My favorite country is Italy. I was there three times, but i can't bored.
Worst case of rain: Last November i was cycling home in the rain. I saw a puddle in front of me and i wanted to go over it. I felt a big bump and flew over the handle. I came to the asphalt with my head - it was the only day in the year when i forgot to pick up my helmet. I was lucky - No bone fracture or concussion of the brain - only a wound that had to be stitched with three stitches.
Someone stole the drainage grid therefore under the puddle was a big hole. Sucks!
Ouch. That story definitely takes the crown as worst experience with rain. Let’s hope that the team will be as lucky in the tour as it’s manager was coming out of that accident without any major injuries!
Van Putten in TF is a contender for the GC podium, being a very allround tour rider. He might just miss that extra bit to actually get to the podium, but he should be a stable finisher in all stages.
Captain: Santino Giofriola
Goal: Stage wins and maybe SC
Favourite Country (apart from team nationality or Norway): Portugal above all
Worst case of rain: So hard I couldn't see where i was driving
Many Belgian drivers look like they can’t see where they are driving, but I will assume that Rubin is not one of them outside of heavy rainfall. Giofrola is one of the many excellent sprinters in this tour, and usually I would not doubt about his ability to win a stage. In this field, anyone of 5-6 riders can win the sprint stages. It will be a very exciting tour for the sprinters!
Every Grand Tour needs a big TT squad, and here it is. They will aim to score big in the two TT stages, and survive the others. Life must be good on the dark side!
Having a little bit of everything can be a good thing, and a bad thing. With the climbing and sprinting fields both being strong, this team might struggle to score there because of the lack of support. But for their TT’er, anything is possible, so they could very well end up having a successful tour anyway.
Lincoln Hannity, Bas-Jan van Putten
Ola Granat, Raul Gonzales, Humberto Valenzuela (YC), Augustin Hofman (YC)
Heiko Hermans, Owen Beery, Wessel Koremans, Jonathan Bertelsen, Zami Che Omar
Hu Lijun, Uzun Halek
Eric Uba, Lieuwe Oosterhof, Santino Giofrola
Xalbador Altamirano, Lucca Ublue, Jean de Dieu Nyirabarame