After recently having won the 2010 World Cycling Championships in Geelong, we chose a select few questions from our readers and passed them on to the Champion himself. But before we go there, here’s a brief overview of the man wearing the Champions Stripes for the next year.
Thor Hushovd has a renowned ability for enduring great suffering, all in pursuit of a race win. This trait showed very early in his career, when he won the U23Men World Time Trial Championships. He then went on to win the U23Men version of the Paris – Roubaix Classic, before turning professional in 1998.
Seemingly unstoppable, Hushovd went on to claim honours in the Norwegian Time Trial Championships, both in 2004 and 2005. Claiming the most UCI wins of any Norwegian rider, Thor Hushovd has won seven UCI ProTour events.
Multiple stage wins in Tour De France and Giro D’Italia are all part of Hushovd’s palmares and go without mentioning – as with his Tour of California stage win. Surprisingly enough, Thor was not an outright favourite leading into this year’s World Championships.
On October 3, 2010, Hushovd won the UCI Road World Championships, which started in Melbourne and finished on a circuit in nearby Geelong, Australia. He was the first-ever Norwegian to win the men's elite road title. And we’re the first Australian website to submit reader questions to him…
Joey Esterhuyzen: Thor, thanks for your time! How’s life been, after having won the coveted Rainbow jersey?
Thor Hushovd: It’s been good. I’ve been busy, but I’m really enjoying it.
Joey Esterhuyzen: Well you deserve every stripe, so congratulations! Our readers have submitted questions they would have wanted to ask you… We did try narrow them down a bit, and got it down to three pages! But here are the surviving few…
Will Orchard – NSW: What is your main source of motivation during training throughout the year?
Hushovd: To always perform better, and get more out of my body. I’m also always thinking of my next big race, and that’s my motivation.
Boyd Friis – Victoria: As a sprinter, do you train to sprint or is it a natural ability?
Hushovd: Yeah I train to sprint. I do a lot of strength training and intense intervals – so lots of training specifically for my sprinting.
(doorbell rings: “Sorry I just have somebody at my door”…….. “Hey look I have someone on the phone from Australia yeah, can we yeah…”…… “Oh sure no problem, cheers”
Hushovd: Just some jerseys from Castelli, sorry… Carry on.
Joey Esterhuyzen: (laughs) no problem, tough life hey!
Hushovd: Ah but somebody has to do it no? (laughs)
Damon Maloney – Victoria: What training do you undertake specifically for the Classics, like Paris Roubaix?
Hushovd: I do several long, very intense intervals as well as longer sessions on the bike, like 6 hours. You really have to work on your endurance, working to make your engine bigger you know. Stronger, for much longer.
Chris Walker – Melbourne: In 1993 the Worlds were held in Oslo. Were you watching it then, when Armstrong won?
Hushovd: I was just 15, so I was like “wow, all these big riders coming here for the Worlds”. It was really great. I rode the circuit too, and it feels like so long ago now that I am World Champion!
Nick Symons - Victoria: Knowing you’re the best in the world, how do you now manage to gauge yourself against others?
Hushovd: I still have a lot of respect for all the other riders in the peloton, so that is the same. Also there is more pressure, and people expect more from me as World Champion. But in the end, I’m still the same person as yesterday, and the day before…
Steven Martin – Victoria: What’s the most important part of your ‘pre race’ preparation?
Hushovd: My coffee! We have an espresso machine on the bus, and before a long race I like to just relax and keep warm. We have a team meeting, and go from there.
Matt McMahon – Victoria: When did you realize you had what it takes to become a Pro Cyclist?
Hushovd: When I won the Paris Roubaix for youth riders, I thought “hey I can really do this” – so I got in touch with teams and started making connections. Then the teams started getting in touch with me and it went from there.
Callum Fagg – Tasmania: Which race are you most looking forward to, wearing your World Champions jersey?
Hushovd: Definitely the Paris Roubaix! It’s a race I would really like to win next year…
Steve Nightingale – NSW: What went through your mind as you crossed the line, becoming World Champion?
Hushovd: It was completely different. Very hard for me to understand what had happened! I just focused on passing all the other riders, but when I crossed the line it was really something different to any other win. It was like “you’ve won the World Championships” but it still didn’t sink in at the time…
Some good questions there, thanks to the readers! Thor, has it sunk it yet that you are the 2010 World Champion – the best rider in the world?
Hushovd: It sounds crazy when I hear you say that! Yes now it has. I was sitting on the plane with champagne, and it was really nice just taking it all in. No people around me, just peace and quiet. And that’s when it really kind of made sense.
How did your homeland of Norway react to your win?
Hushovd: Well I haven’t been back there yet, but everyone in Norwegian cycling is very happy (with my Worlds win) In the past seven years, cycling has grown a lot there – so they’re all very happy.
Last question! With 2011 in mind, what does it mean to be joining a new team, Garmin – Cervelo, with the World Champions jersey on your shoulders?
Hushovd: I’m not on the team as yet, so I’m just focusing on what’s at hand now. But yes I’m quite excited going into 2011, with all the Classics events in mind. It’s a big team, and now we will also have the rainbow jersey… I can’t wait for (it to) start.