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"That all makes it harder to predict the winner this year, but we just have to stay up there for the first two days and then the likes of me, Pete [Kennaugh] and Nico [Roche] will try and give it our all on the last stage."

Photo: A.S.O.






28.04.2016 @ 23:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lars Petter Nordhaug sealed the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire title for Team Sky in 2015, and on the eve of the second edition, checked in with the reigning champion to see how confident he is of retaining his crown.


The Norwegian is fresh from the Ardennes Classics, where he played a key role in Wout Poels's epic Liege-Bastogne-Liege win, and is raring to get started in Yorkshire. chatted to the 31 year old at the team hotel. He recalled how much he enjoyed last year's 'unbelievable' crowds, provided his thoughts on this year's route, and admitted that he's got one eye on the Olympics later in the season.



"What I remember most of all is all the spectators and the atmosphere throughout the race," he said. "It felt like the biggest race I did last year - it wasn't on paper, but with all the supporters it really felt that way. I've only done the Tour de France once but this race was the closest experience I've had to it. It was unbelievable. For the last stage there were supporters all along the road from start to finish. It was crazy.


"We were racing for Ben Swift. I was a back-up man for him and I really wanted to help him out because it was his home race. I'd also come from the Ardennes Classics - I'd done a big block there - so I wasn't very fresh. I was relaxed though, ready to help Swifty and have some fun, but he crashed midway through the first stage. It was a really hard to see him abandon, but after that I had to take my opportunity to try and win it.



"Then the team did a great job of controlling the race. The last stage was really hard and we were really strong. It was such a good three days for me last year, a great experience. The race was so well organised, seeing all the spectators - everything was like a really big race."



Nordhaug hopes to retain the title.


"Of course, but it won't be easy - it's never easy," he said. "The start is not so tough this year, so the first and second days won't be as decisive, and guys might get the lead by taking some bonus seconds in the sprints. We will have to try and attack on the last stage. We might even have the lead ourselves by then with our sprinter, Danny [van Poppel]. That all makes it harder to predict the winner this year, but we just have to stay up there for the first two days and then the likes of me, Pete [Kennaugh] and Nico [Roche] will try and give it our all on the last stage. Whoever is feeling really strong will go for it.



"The race is a bit like a three-day Ardennes Classic. Coming from those races to here is the perfect preparation. You ride in the same way on similar roads with the same kind of climbs. There aren't many races like it, but I find it really cool. It's always up and down on small roads and I find that much more fun than riding on big open roads.



Nordhaug arrives fresh from playing a key role in Poels' Liege win.


"It was brilliant," he said. "It was a big win for the team and a big win for Wout. Wout's not from Belgium but it's a race he has known for a long time and it's very near his home. I'm not surprised he won it, he's been so strong this year. We were riding for [Michal] Kwiatkowski before but I was sure Wout would be up there. The two of us were there in the final stages and we just had to see who was the strongest rider. He was fantastic. It was special, and kind of a relief for the team to win a Monument.



"Amstel was OK, I was in the first group, and Liege was a really tough race, so I was pleased to be there at the end. Wout's group were 12 seconds ahead at Liege and I was in a group of around 20 riders behind. I would have loved to get in the top 10, but when I knew Wout was winning in front, I knew finishing ninth or 17th wouldn't make a difference!"


The first part of the season has been mixed for Nordhaug.



"I was targeting Strade Bianche and I was ninth there, which was quite good, then I was targeting the Ardennes. It's been up and down a little bit. It could have been better, but I also had a bad crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, so I was just happy I could get back into OK shape for the Ardennes. I had a bad wound on my wrist and you could see all the way into my arm. I had to have a week off the bike, so I was relieved to recover well from that.



"After this weekend, I'm aiming for the Olympics. I want to ride well there but it's a hard course. It's maybe a little too hard for me, but I think it's possible. I know I can do well in tough one-day races."



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