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"With eleven WorldTeams on the starting line, a record number for an event in Norway, we will have a high-quality line-up, and quite honestly, looking at the list of entrants I find it hard to hide my enthusiasm!"

Photo: ARN/P.Perreve

ARCTIC RACE OF NORWAY

RACE PROFILE
|
NEWS
01.08.2016 @ 22:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ten days before the beginning of its fourth edition, the Arctic Race of Norway (11-14 August) has become an unmissable event on the cycling calendar, right in the middle of the summer. We already know that the route is a breath-taking spectacle in itself, with 4 stages that wind along the fjords and both sides of the Arctic Circle, so the race is going to take our breath away too. Out to win, Estonian title-holder Rein Taaramäe (Team Katusha) will be back - this time in new colours - to defend his crown against a host of pretenders, particularly the Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team). With just a few months to go before the World Championships in Qatar, the world's elite sprinters will be in Norway for the most northerly race on the planet. For Démare (FDJ), Kristoff (Team Katusha), Degenkolb (Team Giant-Alpecin), Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) or the new Norwegian sprint sensation, Enger (IAM Cycling), the fight for the rainbow jersey will start in the country of the Aurora Borealis!

 

It would be a brave man to predict who will be raising their arms on the final podium of the 4th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway. Will the Korgjfellet, the main challenge on the 3rd stage (8.9 km at 6.3%) definitively sort out the sprinters for the general classification? That is what title-holder Rein Taaramäe must be hoping, as he built his success in 2015 on the twisting circuit of Narvik in the final stage. It is also an ideal scenario for Philippe Gilbert, who will be eagerly expected with all the expectations around his futur in the peloton. Apart from Gilbert, another major figure in the peloton will start in Norway: Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), 37 years of age, will do everything he can to win his first road race since the Grand Prix de Plouay in 2014, and his attacking style could do a lot of damage on the twisting route designed for this year. The route should also suit ‘local boy' Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) down to the ground. A stage winner and 3rd in the general classification in 2014, the man from Lillehammer is a great lover of stage races that last less than a week; indeed, he won the Tour de Yorkshire 2015 wearing Sky's colours. Another Norwegian rider must want the race to start like none else. It's August Jensen (Team Coop-ØsterHus), winner of the salmon jersey (best climber) in 2014. He is born and raised in Bodø, the city where the 2016 edition will end! 
 
Everything is still on the cards for the sprinters, however. If they manage to negotiate the Korgfjellet they could have a big say in the final classification, particularly because the last stage promises to be spectacular with 3 intermediate sprints to distribute the bonus seconds located in the last 25 kilometres of the final circuit in Bodø. Given the quality the sprinters racing the Arctic Race of Norway, we can expect some heart-stopping sprints! Three favourites come to mind: Alexander Kristoff, with 8 wins this year, but who missed out in the Tour de France on several occasions due to small setbacks. Arnaud Démare did not ride in the Tour but his 2016 season has been marked by his win in Milan-San Remo. France had waited for that for 21 years! Then there is John Degenkolb, whose progression has been opposite to the main names because the start of his season was affected by a serious fall in training. He is gradually getting back to form and wants to rediscover the taste of victory in Norway. Careful, though! Others could well point the handlebars in the right direction in the final straights, starting with the Norwegian prodigy Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling). At just 22, he was the youngest rider in the peloton of the Tour de France 2016 and managed to get into the Top 10 four times, including a third place finish in Bern. Also look out for Ben Swift, runner-up to Démare in Milan-San Remo, or Champion of Italy Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo), two times winner of the best sprinter's jersey in the Giro d'Italia, or the Irishman Sam Bennett (Team Bora-Argon 18), a stage winner in the Arctic Race of Norway last year. Whatever, before arriving in Qatar in October, the path of the future world champion could well pass through the jewels of northern Norway…

 

Thor Hushovd, first winner of the Arctic Race of Norway and race ambassador, says:


“I can't wait for the 4th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway to start. With eleven WorldTeams on the starting line, a record number for an event in Norway, we will have a high-quality line-up, and quite honestly, looking at the list of entrants I find it hard to hide my enthusiasm! Apart from the fight for the general ranking, which is going to be intense with riders of the level of Philippe Gilbert or title-holder Rein Taaramäe, I'm really looking forward to following the battle among the sprinters over the four days. There could be sparks between John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff and Sondre Holst Enger, the new norwegian whiz kid!”

 

22 teams: Main contenders
11 UCI WorldTeams

Astana Pro Team (KAZ) : Guardini (Ita), Boom (Ned)
BMC Racing Team (USA): Gilbert (Bel), Moinard (Fra)
Team Dimension Data (AFS): Farrar (Usa), Brammeier (Irl)
FDJ (FRA) : Demare (Fra), Offredo (Fra)
IAM Cycling (SWI) : Enger (Nor), Clement (Ned)
Team Giant-Alpecin (GER) : Degenkolb (Ger)
Team Katusha (RUS) : Taaramäe (Est), Kristoff (Nor)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo (NED) : Hofland (Ned), Vanmarcke (Bel)
Team Sky (GBR): Nordhaug (Nor), Swift (Gbr)
Tinkoff (RUS) : Gatto (Ita), Trofimov (Rus)
Trek - Segafredo (USA) : Nizzolo (Ita), Bonifazio (Ita)

7  UCI Professional Continental Teams 

Direct Energie (FRA) : Sy.Chavanel (Fra)
One Pro Cycling (GBR): Goss (Aus)
Fortuneo Vital Concept (FRA): Hivert (Fra)
Stölting Service Group (GER) : Wegmann (Ger)
Team Bora-Argon 18 (GER) : Sam Bennett (Irl)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise (BEL) : Van Hecke (Bel)
Wanty - Groupe Gobert (BEL) : Marcato (Ita)

4 Norwegian  UCI Continental Teams

Team Coop-ØsterHus : Jensen (Nor)
Team Joker – Byggtorget : Halvorsen (Nor)
Team Ringeriks – Kraft : Abrahamsen (Nor)
Team Sparebanken Sør : Dahl (Nor)

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