Tour of the Alps 2024, Foss wins the first stage. «In Norway we study cycling at university»-

by Marco Bonarigo

Norwegian Thomas Foss, former time trial world champion, comes from Lillehammer, a land of cross-country skiing, «but since cycling has been studied at university we have had very advanced training»

You say Lillehammer, Norway, and you think of a historic triumph of Italian sport: the sprint victory of the Italian cross-country skiing relay team (De Zolt, Albarello, Vanzetta, Fauner) at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games against the hosts, unbeatable monsters sacred of the discipline, in front of a silenced audience that took a long time to recover from the loss of a victory considered certain. Thirty years ago we were cross-country outsiders and cycling giants.

Today Italy (far behind in the cross-country skiing rankings) is also struggling in cycling where Norway continues to gain positions. On Monday in Cortina Città del Vino, in Alto Adige, the Norwegian of Ineos Tobias Foss won the first stage of the Tour of the Alps (formerly Giro del Trentino), the mid-mountain classic that the big teams use as the final finishing touch for the Giro of Italy. Foss, 26 years old, well supported by Geraint Thomas and Pippo Ganna as wingmen, beat Chris Harper, Esteban Chavez and Ben O’Connor in a short time. First of the Italians was Antonio Tiberi who finished in seventh position.

The Scandinavian runner was born and raised in Lillehammer, a place that is to cross-country skiing what Flanders is to cycling and where he started skiing and shooting in the biathlon.

The choice of cycling for Tobias, in a nation climatically not ideal for training, came as it did for hundreds of Norwegian boys in the wake of the successes of Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen. Foss did not take long to show his qualities by first surprisingly winning the Tour de l’Avenir (a sort of Tour de France for amateurs) and then sensationally winning the 2022 professional time trial world title ahead of Kung, Evenepoel and Ganna. Also thanks to him, Norwegian cycling professionalism was consolidated and allowed the birth of Uno-X Mobility, one of the very few top-tier teams with 30 athletes from the same nation.

«Our secret – explained the Ineos rider – is that cycling has become an object of study in universities and the training methodologies are highly developed. Norway is a very advanced nation from a scientific point of view with important implications for training. The Lillehammer research center has close collaborative relationships with various World Tour teams. And we riders, as happened to me, first in the Dutch environment of Jumbo and now in the British environment of Ineos, acquire the culture of this sport by mixing it to our seriousness and the support we receive at home.”

Tomorrow’s very demanding stage: Salorno-Stans, 190.7 kilometers and 2,510 meters of altitude difference. Which will be followed by the stage on the Schwaz circuit for a total of 124.8 kilometers and 2,360 meters of altitude difference. But the last two stages will be the ones that will make the difference. On 18 April the caravan will leave from Laives: 141.3 kilometers and just under 4,000 meters of altitude difference with arrival in Borgo Valsugana, in Trentino. The last stage of the Tour of the Alps on Friday with departure and arrival in Levico Terme presents a reduced mileage, 118.6 kilometres, but numerous bumps that can mix up the values ​​on the field.

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April 15, 2024 (modified April 15, 2024 | 10:53 pm)

2024-04-15 20:53:50
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