Edvald Boasson Hagen out of contract and rejected by Uno-X, but still wants to continue

Norwegian veteran changes agents ahead of 2024 as he fights to continue his career, with dsm-firmenich linked

Clock15:15, Sunday 15th October 2023
Edvald Boasson Hagen was once referred to as the 'new Eddy Merckx,' but now stands without a contract for the coming season

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Edvald Boasson Hagen was once referred to as the 'new Eddy Merckx,' but now stands without a contract for the coming season

After an 18-year professional career, Edvald Boasson Hagen is struggling to find his next contract and may face a premature end to his racing days. The 36-year-old has not been offered a new contract by TotalEnergies and despite hoping for a deal from Uno-X Pro Cycling, Boasson Hagen is still without a team to race for next season.

The Norwegian is one of a number of riders who will suffer from Peter Sagan’s decision to retire from professional road racing. The Slovakian was a major factor in Specialized’s sponsorship of the TotalEnergies team and with his retirement, their investment has now dwindled ahead of 2024 and left TotalEnergies with little choice but to see the likes of Boasson Hagen leave the team.

Read more: The five victories that made Peter Sagan unforgettable

With TotalEnergies out of the equation, Boasson Hagen has had to cast his attention elsewhere and as his hopes dwindle, the three-time Tour de France stage winner has changed agents to try and bring about a resolution. Previously represented by Andrew McQuaid, Boasson Hagen has turned to former Finish cyclist Joona Laukka as his new agent.

Speaking to Discovery, Boasson Hagen has revealed that there have been a few teams who only offered him terms on a minimum wage contract, which stands at around €68,000. However, the 36-year-old is not willing to ride on such terms and with the wealth of experience he offers, values himself at a higher mark.

“In order to get a new contract in such a market, you have to be upfront, and I have been upfront over the last few months and am talking to some teams,” Boasson Hagen commented. “I haven't lost faith and have some options. I've been cycling for a long time and don't want to cycle for free.”

“There are some teams that have indicated that I can ride for them if I want, but that I would be on minimum wage. I still want to cycle, but it must still be worth it.”

The age of the young superstars leaves many experienced riders struggling for a ride

The list of those who have retired in recent months is long, and contains many names who came to define cycling throughout the 2010s, but there is a sense that 2023 marks the end of that generation’s time at the top of the sport. Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan are both now gone, as are Thibaut Pinot, Luis León Sánchez, Tony Gallopin, Dries Devenyns, Imanol Erviti and Rohan Dennis.

Read more: Nothing gold can stay: Greg Van Avermaet on retiring with no regrets

As for those struggling to find a contract, Zdeněk Štybar has admitted the Gree-Tour of Guangxi will probably be his final professional race given the lack of a contract offer. Meanwhile, as per The Cycling Podcast’s Daniel Friebe, the African trio of Tsgabu Grmay, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Merhawi Kudus are among those who are still searching for a new contract.

"The sports world has had a quantum leap in the last 5-6 years,” reflects Uno-X directeur sportif Stig Kristiansen. “There has been a marked change in terms of performance, but also when it comes to riding style and watts per kilogram in all phases of the race.”

“Names like [Tadej] Pogačar, [Wout] van Aert and [Mathieu] van der Poel have a huge influence on how cycling is done. If one of them is on the starting line, you can be sure that the final will start with 120 kilometers to go, instead of 60. They change the course of the race wherever they are, and they make sure that a real bike race is run every time they are on start.”

In this age, Boasson Hagen has struggled to leave his impression on many races and this is playing out in his struggle to source a new deal. The veteran started the season well with third place at Gran Premi València and fourth in the spring at the GP de Denain, but he has since failed to notch up any top-10 results.

His last notable major result was third place at the cobbled stage of the 2022 Tour de France, but Boasson Hagen’s motivation to continue racing remains as strong as ever. If he is to have raced his last professional race, it won’t be by his own decision.

“I can't bear to sit here every year and wait to find a team,” he admitted. “I really want to ride at least one more year, but I can also ride for two years if I feel it's worth it. That's the motivation, I would like to continue.”

Should Boasson Hagen continue, it won’t be with Uno-X Pro Cycling

Boasson Hagen’s new agent, Laukka, also represents fellow Scandinavian cyclists Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X Pro Cycling), Odd Christian Eiking (EF Education-EasyPost) and Sven Erik Bystrøm (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), but it is understood his representation of Romain Bardet and John Degenkolb is of the most significance. With those connections, Laukka has floated his name to dsm-firmenich, who employ the services of both Bardet and Degenkolb.

Nothing further is known at this stage, but the 36-year-old will take hope from the news that Rui Costa has found a new team at the age of 37. He may have taken a slot with EF Education-EasyPost that Boasson Hagen could have angled for, but the move shows that there is still a market for experienced rouleurs.

Read more: Rui Costa agrees terms with EF Education-EasyPost

However, one team that Boasson Hagen and Laukka can rule off the list is Uno-X Pro Cycling. The UCI ProTeam may employ exclusively Scandinavian riders, but there appears to be no room for the 36-year-old and his wage for the coming seasons.

“Uno-X is a very nice team, and I would have liked to have cycled there. It's a shame I'm not allowed to do that. At least it seems as if that door is closed,” Boasson Hagen admitted.

The last conversations between Boasson Hagen and Uno-X last took place in 2020, when the Norwegian decided to opt for a bigger contract with the French TotalEnergies outfit, and directeur sportif Kristiansen has confirmed Uno-X do not see Boasson Hagen riding with them in 2024.

“Do we have room? That is the first question. I don't have a full overview, but I think we have one free place compared to what is the maximum limit. And it's not like we have to fill that space.”

“It's probably a question of price - as it almost always is,” he noted. “By Norwegian standards, we are a ‘gigantic project,’ but we are a small team compared to the big WorldTour teams. We are not a WorldTour team, either. We have to do things our way. It also means that we don't put money on the table for everyone who wants to join us. We have to develop quite a few riders ourselves.”

Boasson Hagen’s case won’t have been helped by Uno-X’s ambitious signings of Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Andreas Leknessund (dsm-firmenich) and Markus Hoelgaard (Lidl-Trek) for 2024 and beyond, all of whom will squeeze the team’s wage budget.

Read more: Uno-X bolster their ranks with Magnus Cort and Andreas Leknessund

For the time being, it appears as though Boasson Hagen faces an uphill battle to find himself a suitable contract for 2024, but after an 18-year career, the experienced Norwegian knows a deal can turn up at any point between now and December, so patience will be a virtue.

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