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“My brother took part in the Arctic Race before and he told me it's super nice. Firstly, I have to recover from the trip to Rio.”

Photo: Tim De Waele/TDW Sport


11.08.2016 @ 00:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Defending champion Rein Taaramäe and former world champion Philippe Gilbert have made their way to northern Norway from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to contest the overall victory in the fourth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway. Another big battle is expected between sprinting superstars Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb and Arnaud Démare, the last three winners of Milan-Sanremo.

The ambassador and first ever winner of the Arctic Race of Norway Thor Hushovd has made his pick for this year: “My favorite is Philippe Gilbert. He's clever and very motivated for the race.” The living legend of Norwegian cycling – with ten Tour de France stage victories under his belt – has fulfilled his role in promoting his country to attract the 2012 world champion and reigning Belgian champion to Norway. “Thor and I are former team-mates and still big friends”, said the BMC rider. “My brother took part in the Arctic Race before and he told me it's super nice. Firstly, I have to recover from the trip to Rio.”


With stage 3 to Korgfjellet set to shape the final classification with an 8.9km long climb at the end, Gilbert is on paper a potential winner and at least a valuable challenger to defending champion Rein Taaramäe who dethroned Ben Hermans, another Belgian from BMC, on the last day one year ago in Narvik. “The Arctic Race of Norway has a different route every year, it makes it harder to plan and predict”, warned Hushovd. “I also feel the jetlag”, said Taaramäe who managed to arrive from Rio one day earlier than Gilbert.

The popularity of the Arctic Race of Norway was touching once again at the teams presentations on the eve of stage 1 in Bodø where it all started in 2013 with a bunch gallop won by Kenny van Hummel. On Sunday, the grand finale will also take place in the city that celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. 


Sprinters might have two or three opportunities to ride for victory out of four stages. For the last three winners of Milan-Sanremo, it's the first test of their legs in the lead up to the world championship in Doha, Qatar, on October 16. Local hero Alexander Kristoff and Germany's John Degenkolb resume racing following a break after the Tour de France while Arnaud Démare hasn't taken part in it in order to focus on the last part of the season.


“Norway is new to me, it's beautiful”, said the Frenchman who got an helicopter ride above Bodø along with Kristoff, Degenkolb, Taaramäe and Belgian classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke. “The level of the field is very high. There'll be some great sprints”, Démare added.



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