Steff Cras talks about his selection for the Tour de France. “A dream come true”
The team was looking for a rider of my profile. Someone who can help during the flat part and who can stay with Caleb in the mountains.
The Dane Rasmus Byriel Iversen and Norwegian Carl Fredrik Hagen will join the Lotto Soudal WorldTour team in 2019. The 20-year-old Iversen moves from the U23 team of General Store Bottoli and was able to win no less than seven races this season. The 26-year-old Hagen started out as a professional road cyclist at a later age, but already set some big steps forward over the past four years. The two talented Scandinavians are delighted to reinforce the Lotto Soudal team in the next seasons and are looking forward to chasing their dreams.
Rasmus Byriel Iversen (20): “I’m very happy to become part of Lotto Soudal! Every cyclist hopes to join a WorldTour team someday and now, this dream has become a reality for me. During my first year as a U23 rider I was part of the Danish development team Giant-Castelli. When the team quit in 2017, I moved to Italy, where I was able to break through as a young rider. This season I won seven races, of which two time trials. I'm a good time trialist, but it’s definitely not my specialization. If you have a lot of power, you’re most likely to be good at TT’s. Though, the more Classic races suit me better. I once finished in the top ten in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne as a junior. Belgium is definitely a special place for every cyclist and I love riding there. The way of racing appeals to me, just like the typical weather conditions do: I really enjoy racing in the rain.”
“I already won a race in 2017, but that wasn’t comparable to my victories of this year. The biggest race I’ve won so far, is probably the one in Tuscany. It's a smaller version of the Strade Bianche, which Tiesj Benoot won this year. In Denmark, we have many gravel roads, so I used to train on them quite often. During the race, I attacked on such a road near Siena and did a solo of 60 kilometres till the finish line. Gravel roads have always been special to me, so I had been dreaming of this victory for quite some time. It’s also nice to know that many cyclists who now ride for WorldTour teams, like Gianni Moscon, also won the exact same race in the past. It’s a dream to one day win the Strade Bianche myself, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot from Tiesj Benoot.”
“I don’t know yet which role I'll have within the team, but of course, I’ll do as I’m told: if I can help the team by pulling at the front for 100 kilometres, I’ll be happy to do so. Will I get the opportunity to take my chance in the future? Then I’ll do my very best to achieve the best result possible. Right now, the most important thing for me is to help the team and gain a lot of experience. It will be a whole new chapter and an entire new way of racing. It’s very exciting and I’m really looking forward to next season.”
It’s a dream to one day win the Strade Bianche myself, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot from Tiesj Benoot.
Carl Fredrik Hagen (26): “It all went pretty fast for me. Four years ago, I was able to start at Team Sparebanken Sør and now I’m riding my second season with Joker Icopal. The two seasons before I started out on the road, I was a mountain biker, but the possibilities to practice this discipline of cycling at a high level are limited in Norway. Besides, I’ve always dreamt of becoming a professional road cyclist. At the age of 22 I switched to the road and improved myself quickly. Four years ago, I never would’ve dreamt to join a WorldTour team like Lotto Soudal!”
“In 2017, I was able to win the queen stage of the Tour Alsace and this season I achieved some solid results with, amongst other, the overall victory in the Tour du Jura – the first time I’ve ever concluded a stage race ending first in the GC. This year’s Tour of Norway was also very special for me as the level was really high. There were many WorldTour teams at the start and I still managed to secure a top 5-place in the overall standings at the end. I like the somewhat harder races with tough ascents, short as well as longer ones. Stage races with a difficult course are races suited to my capabilities as a puncher. It’s my dream to become a rider at a high level in stage races and I hope to be at the start of one of the three Grand Tours someday.”
“But right now, I want to help the other riders at Lotto Soudal as much as I can and help the team in achieving solid results. I’m really grateful to be given this opportunity, so I will give my all for the team. I realise that I still need to learn a lot, but I'm a quick learner and I hope to keep making progression. This month I'll be riding some races in Belgium before my seasons ends. A while ago, I participated in a 1.1 race in Overijse and I really liked it! After this month I’ll take some time off, maybe do some trails with my mountain bike and then return to riding my road bike quite fast to maintain the strength in my legs. I’m probably one of the riders who trains the most in Norway, which might explain my fast progression. I'm just really motivated to challenge and push myself. Of course, I’ll be taking it one step at a time, but I can’t wait till the start of next season. I really want to start 2019 in the best shape I’ve ever had!”
I like the somewhat harder races with tough ascents, short as well as longer ones.
PHOTO: Arctic Race of Norway.