Vegard Stake Laengen
Rider type: Allrounder
Biggest success: 4th Tour de l'Avenir
Team 2011: Joker - Merida
Team 2012: not yet known
Best Mock List ranking: new
The new Hushovd? The new Hagen? The new Kristoff? Who is this Laengen? What can he do? And why is he in the Mock List? Because he is Norwegian? You never know with writers. Sometimes Scandinavian roots are enough. But Vegard Stake Laengen can also ride a bicycle. Without training wheels. On the road. Against other riders. And he did it quite successfully in his last U-23 year.
Since 2008, the young Norwegian from Asker near Oslo has ridden for Team Joker-Merida. In his stagiaire times, it was Team Trek-Adecco, with Joker being the main sponsor since 2009, first with Bianchi and then this year with Merida. As a stagiaire he was convincing, but his first U-23 year was rather dificult. His best result was ninth place at the time trial championship. At the Rogaland GP (1.2) he prepared the sprint for Vold and finished tenth. He didn't finish the world championship race.
2010 was notably better. At least the second half was, the first half was forgettable. He showed what kind of rider he would become – all around good. Strong on climbs and good in time trials, a previously unknown combination for a Norwegian. He had good results at the national championships, finished ninth again in the time trial and fourth in the road race. On the first stage of the Tour d'Alsace (2.2), he was near the front, his fifth place stage finish leading to his ninth place overall in the end. He moved up in the Giro del Friuli Venezia Giulia (2.2). A fourth place on the third stage was enough to give him the leader's jersey, which he held on to until the end, giving him his first pro win.
The following year he was good in the first half of the season as well. The Tripytique des Monts et Chateaux (2.2), the warm-up for the U-23 Ronde van Vlaanderen saw Laengen in third place. On the first stage he laid the groundstone, arriving at the finish in a group around stage winner van der Sande and eventual overall winner Tom Dumoulin, and held on to that lead until the end of the race. At the afore-mentioned Ronde van Vlaanderen, he finished seventh whilst wearing the national jersey, one place behind his teammate Bugge. In June he rode the Tour of Norway (2.2), where he again rode for Bugge who finished third overall. Laengen himself finished the race as 20th. He used the national time trial, where he finished fourth, as a warm up for the road race, where he was able to take the silver medal behind Kristoff, who easily beat him in the sprint. In Offida, at the European championship, he was third in the time trial, and twelfth in the road race. It was hilly again in Alsace, where he was fifth and his teammate Remme second, a strong Norwegian result in France.
The season highpoint was still to come in France. The Tour de l'Avenir (2.NC) is the most important U-23 race of the year after the World Championships. On the third stage from Gerardmer to Porrentruy in Switzerland, he finished fourth and came over the climbs in the same group as the later winner Chaves. He finished seventh on the fifth stage up Mont Saleve. He had no helpers stationed along the course of the last stage, dehydrated, and had to give up his podium place. In the end, he was fourth, which is also a very good result. His next goal is Copenhagen. There he must look to do well in a break group, as he will have no chance in a sprint.
Norwegian riders are very popular right now in the cycing world, and there ought to be a place on a pro team for an allrounder with special qualities on longer climbs. This quality can be found in Vegard Stake Laengen, who can set forth the short but successful traditon of top Norwegian riders.
Nominated by Offi, written by Offi, translated by Tick