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James Moultrie

'I never actually saw myself as a TT guy' - Tobias Foss takes second-ever road race victory

Tobias Foss .

Former time trial World Champion Tobias Foss took his first victory in 575 days and his first for a trade team on stage 1 of the Tour of the Alps, admitting after that he never saw himself as a specialist for the time trial.

The Norwegian said he has long been trying to refind himself as a leader for the general classification at the biggest races. It’s something he achieved at the highest level as a junior rider having won the Tour de l’Avenir in 2019, but he never quite found the consistency after turning pro with Jumbo-Visma in 2020 despite taking ninth at the Giro in 2021. 

“I think I never actually saw myself as a TT guy I just happened to do best there and get good results there,” Foss said in the winner's press conference in Cortina. 

“I’m constantly trying to be a better GC rider for the Grand Tours. I know that I can climb well and sprint fairly well against pure climbers, so hopefully, I can develop the GC condition.”

Foss took his first win for new side Ineos Grenadiers in the reduced-group sprint into Cortina ahead of Chris Harper (Jayco AlUla) and Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost). It was just his fifth as a pro and first in a road race outside of the Norwegian national championships in 2021.

He combined well with Geraint Thomas after the duo made it into the leading group over the final climb and played the card of having Filippo Ganna in the chase behind to allow them to miss turns on the front.

“I actually know I have quite a good sprint; I see it in training. [Geraint Thomas] was there to give me the confidence I needed to go for it,” Foss said. 

“Our whole tactic was to get over the climb with me and G in the first group covering the attacks and hope Pippo [Ganna] would get across to us.

“When Pippo’s group didn’t manage to get up, G said that I could go for it. I followed Chaves one time, and we had quite a small group, and after we went for the sprint. To use Pippo today as a tactical play was quite crucial for us.”

He now leads the GC at the Tour of the Alps by four seconds to Harper, with pre-race GC favourites Ben O’Connor and Thomas 10 and 13 seconds back, respectively. Foss will have his work cut out for him on the tougher climbing stages 3 and 4 but will be confident after taking the victory.

The Norwegian is also set to return to the Giro d’Italia for his fourth appearance at the Corsa Rosa alongside Thomas and Ganna, where he will play a support role for the Brit and Thymen Arsensman. He’ll also go for the individual time trials on stages 7 and 14, but if his climbing can carry over from the Tour of the Alps, he could be a valuable card to play in the GC battle. Thomas was the first to celebrate with his teammate past the line before he was congratulated by compatriot Torstein Træen, smiling ear to ear before the podium.

Back in good health and enjoying trust at Ineos Grenadiers

Tobias Foss (Image credit: Getty Images)

Foss’ move to Ineos Grenadiers for 2024 seems a prominent turning point already just eight race days in for the Norwegian, having sorted the health issues that plagued his 2023 season and been allowed more ‘space’ and ‘trust’ on the British side. 

“I’m no expert in teams, but both have some pros and cons. Personally, I feel like this team maybe give me a bit more space, give me a bit more trust,” Foss said.

“It's also nice to come to a less great team at the moment. We’re kind of together now, hoping to build back to the Sky days - that process and journey is super cool to be part of. Hopefully, we’ll continue like this now with the win in Amstel and now today and can reach the top level.” 

Foss revealed that a tough bout with COVID-19 after the Tour de Romandie in 2023 kept him off the bike for a prolonged period after also telling Rouleur in February that a health scan by his new team showed that he had also had glandular fever. The Norwegian said that an eight-week break in the off-season was “super needed” but that he still isn’t at his absolute top level.

“I still feel like I’m kind of building back. I'm not at 100% yet but health-wise it's way better than it's been in quite a while,” Foss said.

Despite his admission that he was never trying to become a TT specialist, Foss did acknowledge that one race against the clock will be his ultimate goal for the season - the Paris Olympics individual time trial.

Having won Worlds back in 2022 against a field that did include the best of the best in Ganna and Remco Evenepoel, Foss knows he has it in him to do it again if he can muster up a similarly great day on the bike come July 27. 

“Personally, I think the Olympics is my main goal this year. Hopefully, I can build a good foundation now in the first half then I really want to target the TT at the Olympics,” Foss said.

He’ll be flying the Norwegian flag on that day, but his move to Ineos seems to have put him back on track to consistently become a rider fighting for victory on the biggest days, not just someone who did it once for 34.2km in Wollongong and then disappeared into obscurity.

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