Klaebo, the Norwegian phenomenon of cross-country skiing is given to cycling – La Stampa


At the age of 23 he is already one of the greatest cross-country skier in history, but now Johannes Hosflot Klaebo is thinking of surprising even in cycling. Great opponent of the blue Federico Pellegrino, this fantastic Norwegian athlete has already won three Olympic gold medals, at Pyeongchang 2018, a world title, two general World Cups (2018 and 2019) and four specialty Cups, all in the sprint, from the 2017 to 2020. Now Klaebo seems to want to broaden his horizons, so much so that he has signed a five-year contract with the Norwegian cycling team Uno-X Development, Professional category training, that is, the second series of bicycle professionals.

“I am proud and honored to have this chance – wrote Klaebo on social networks – even if my first sport will always be cross-country skiing. But I hope that there will be a mutual exchange of experiences between skiing and cycling”. It is not known yet when Klaebo will debut in his new and parallel career as a runner, who will still earn about 400 thousand euros per season. Not bad really, for a cross-country skier who looks to cycling.

Her story recalls that of a blue of the 70s and 80s, Maria Canins, who had also started from the bottom to become a bicycle star. Originally from Val Badia, born in 1949, in cross-country skiing she had come to conquer 15 Italian titles from 1969 to 1983. She was also the first Italian ever to win the famous Swedish Vasaloppet race, as well as 10 consecutive editions of the Marcialonga. He also participated in the cross-country World Cup and the Oslo World Cup in 1982.

In the meantime, however, he had already started to go strong by bicycle, first more as a training for skiing than for competitive ambitions. Which he discovered only after the age of 30, even winning two Tour de France (1985 and 1986) and the first edition, in 1988, of the women’s Giro d’Italia. He also played two Olympics: in Los Angeles 1984 (finished fifth) and Seoul 1988 (thirty-second).

Better still he did at the World Championships, with one gold in the team time trial, three silvers and two bronzes in the individual tests online or against the clock. Finally, his palmares was enriched with ten Italian titles, including on-line and time trial events. This was how she got the nickname “flying mom”, because when she started cycling she was already married to the former cross-country skier Bruno Bonaldi and mother of the little Concetta.

From the snow to the bike: this also went to Primoz Roglic, a thirty-year-old Slovenian rider who won the last Vuelta of Spain after having climbed on the podium also in the Giro 2019 (3rd) and having touched him on the Tour of the previous year (4th). It is surprising, however, that in his youth Roglic had been an extraordinary specialist in ski jumping, a sport in which at the age of 14 he had entered the national youth team of his country, one of the strongest in the world in the specialty.

Primoz, a name that is all a program, at the beginning of 2007 managed to win gold at the Tarvisio Junior World Team Championships, making his debut at the end of the season in the absolute races of the FIS. Also for a series of accidents and for some periods of bicycle re-education he finally discovered cycling, to which he decided to seriously dedicate himself only to 23 years old, but managing to burn the stages.

Two other runners come from football, both Belgian and among the strongest in their respective generations: the 35 year old Greg Van Avermaet and the 20 year old Remco Evenepoel. The first, an online Olympic champion in Rio 2016, is a one-day racing specialist. In his palmares there are also a Paris-Roubaix (2017), a Ghent-Wevelgem (in the same year) and a Paris-Tours (2011), as well as stages at the Tour de France and the Vuelta of Spain.

And to say that as a boy he had been an excellent football goalkeeper, so much so that he gained a place in the first team of Beveren, the Belgian Serie A team. An injury was also decisive for him, following which he devoted himself to the bike which, moreover, had been the passion of many of his family and ancestors.

Even the Belgian national football team U15 and U16 was instead a boy Evenepoel, the rising star of world cycling, considered by many to be the new Merckx. Yet he seemed to be heading towards an excellent career as a footballer, even with the jersey of the youth teams of Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven, instead following some accidents he decided to recycle himself as a runner, a role for which he actually seems almost a predestined.

In the footsteps of his father Patrick, who had been a discreet professional in the early 90s, Evenepoel had practically no rivals among the juniors, winning two years ago the national, European and world championships both in time and in line. Having gone professional since 2019, he immediately conquered the Classic San Sebastian at just 19 years old and then graduated European champion and time trial world champion. And it seems only at the beginning: we will certainly hear about him for a long time.

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