Odd Christian Eiking: “I want a top-3 finish in L’Avenir”
In his first season with Team Joker, 19-year-old Odd Christian Eiking already made some waves in the races he did and showed himself to be one of the most brightest prospects of Norwegian cycling. After a 3rd place at the National Championships in June, he raced the Giro della Valle d’Aosta and had a superb performance, finishing 2nd in the GC. That result – the best of a Norwegian rider in the Italian race – made him more confident ahead of his next two big goals of the season, the Tour de l’Avenir and the World Championships.
– Odd, how did you start cycling?
It all started when I was 10. At that point I wasn’t into the Tour de France or anything like that, I just started because I liked to ride my bike. The first couple of years it was nothing serious, I played football and did cross-country skiing. Only when I was around 14-15 years I started to get more serious.
– Did you have an idol you looked up to?
I’ve had a couple of idols that inspired me, but the rider I think is the most inspiring is Alberto Contador, because of his attacking riding style.
– How would you describe yourself as a rider?
I have proven I’m good on the climbs and in the tougher races, but there are still some things I need to work on. For example, I want to be a better time trialist. Also, I have to improve my positioning in the peleton.
– How did you end up riding for Joker?
I had a pretty good Tour of Berlin last year (ed. – 3rd in stage 1 and 10th overall) and a couple of weeks after that I’ve won a race in the National Cup. Joker is the best team in Norway, therefore it was natural for me to say yes when they came with a contract offer.
– In June, you were very impressive at the Nationals and finished 3rd. How was the race?
The race was like many other Championships, pretty tough with many small breakaway attempts all day. In the second-to-last lap I managed to break away with some other guys. The last time up the only hill on the circuit I tried to attack and go solo, but I was caught on the flat section before the finish. Afterwards, I was pretty thrilled with my 3rd place, it was above the expectations I’ve had before the start.
– One month later, you’ve had a great Giro Valle d’Aosta, finishing 2nd overall and in the top 11 of each stage. Did you expect such results?
I came into that race aiming for a top result. I thought I could do a top-5 result, and I was 3rd before the final stage. Finishing 2nd in the end was a really good result for me.
– What other races will you do until the end of the season?
The next race now is Tour de l’Avenir, where I hope for a podium finish in the GC. After that, I’m going to the World Championships in Ponferrada.
– Are you thinking about turning pro next year?
I think I will stay with Joker for one more season, at least the first half of next year. It can be good for me to gain more experience before turning pro. But I will take a decision after this season
– And what dreams do you have?
My dream is to get a nice result in the Tour de France, and by this I mean to do a good GC or to win a stage. I think I could also do pretty good in some of the Classics, like Liège–Bastogne–Liège or Il Lombardia.