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Norwegian narrowly edges out Martens in tough uphill sprint on final stage and takes the overall win away from previous leader Van Hummel by virtue of bonus seconds

Photo: A.S.O. / Pascal Perreve




11.08.2013 @ 16:50 Posted by Frederik Palle Pedersen

Thor Hushovd (BMC) was the big favourite to win the inaugural Arctic Tour of Norway in his home country and the crowd favourite didn't disappoint. Going head-to-head with Paul Martens (Belkin) in the difficult uphill finish, the powerful Norwegian took the win in a photo finish, thus denying overnight leader Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil) the overall win by virtue of bonus seconds.


The inaugural Arctic Tour of Norway has been a race of ups and downs for pre-race and crowd favourite Thor Hushovd. However, it all ended positively for the BMC captain when he won the final stage today and thus secured the overall win in the brand-new race.


After three traditional bunch kicks, the fourth and final stage had a much more difficult uphill finish that appeared to suit Hushovd well and he was always confident that he would be strong enough to take the win. That was what he did as he narrowly edged out Paul Martens in a tight duel on the finishing straight, thus taking his second stage win in the race.


Overnight leader Kenny Van Hummel was only good enough for 5th and as Hushovd had started the stage just 3 seconds behind, the 12 bonus seconds he earned on the stage was enough to hand him the overall win in the race. Van Hummel had to settle for second while yesterday's winner Nikias Arndt (Argos-Shimano) took third on the day to also get onto the overall podium.


The stage and home win finished off a highly successful event which is the first ever to be organized in the area. Tour organizers ASO have been involved in the race which allowed the country to showcase its beautiful nature and the public embraced the new event by turning out in impressive numbers.


5 riders make up early break

The 155km stage was a mostly flat affair but it finished with 5 laps on a difficult finishing circuit that contained the difficult uphill finishing straight. With a very tight GC and a sprint expected, the battle for bonus seconds would be fierce as there was still all to play for.


Early on, Stijn Neirynck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Gilles Devillers (Crelan), Zach Bell (Champion System), Filip Eidsheim (Øster Hus) and Edwig Cammaerts (Cofidis) got clear and those five riders combined forces to build up a solid gap. However, the sprint teams had no intentions of letting them run away with the win and so they always kept them under tight control.


Vacansoleil and Argos chase

With 60km to go, the gap was 2.30 and the future for the break looked bleak as Vacansoleil and Argos-Shimano were chasing hard in the peloton. Tom Stamsnijder, Maurits Lammertink, Willem Wauters and Rob Ruijgh all rotated on the front and gradually brought the gap down.


As the gap approached, the 1-minute mark Bell made an attack when 41km still remained but his fellow escapees gradually brought him back. Instead, Cammaerts tried a move but the Belgian was equally unsuccessful.


The break splits up

With 30km to go, the front group passed the finish line for the first time and they battled hard for the bonus seconds on offer at the first passage. Neirynck crossed the line first ahead of Eidsheim and Devillers while Cammaerts fell off the pace. Bell used a small lull to make an attack and Devillers and Neirynck decided to fall back into the peloton while Eidsheim and Cammaerts still tried to get back on.


As soon as the peloton hit the uphill secton, BMC decided it was time to show their strength and the American team put down the hammer as they headed up towards the finish. They continued their acceleration for a little while afterwards and that brought back 4 of the escapees, leaving just Bell still oout front.


Nordhaug takes KOM points

The second time up the climb, there was KOM points on offer and so KOM leader Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) attacked together with Tobias Ludvigsson. However, BMC quickly brought them back and the acceleration also ended Bell's time as an escapee.


BMC now stopped their effort and that allowed numerous riders to attack. In a very aggressive phase of the race, attacks were launched in both sides of the road. The first to get a serious gap were Reidar Borgersen (Joker Merida) and Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan) and they were joined by Zico Waeytens (Topsport) and Jetse Bol (Belkin).


Bol on his own

Bol decided to leave his companions behind him and with 15km to go, he was the lone leader of the race. Behind, Argos-Shimano and Vacansoleil were once again doing all the chase work while BMC appeared to have used up most of their resources.


Bol was brought back by his chasers but decided to do it alone again as they headed up the climb. Waeytens and Borgersen were absorbed by the peloton and a little later, it was also over for Planckaert.


Hushovd takes bonus seconds

With 12km to go, the peloton - now led by Europcar - brought back Bol as they prepared the final intermediate sprint for Tony Hurel. Hushovd decided to go for the bonus seconds and the Norwegian took second behind Hurel to within 1 second of Van Hummel on GC.


As the pace once again slowed down, Nordhaug, Sondre-Holst Enger (Plussbank), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Øster Hus) and Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis) attacked and a little later a Vacansoleil, a Europcar and a Katusha rider and Ludvigsson also made it across. Another acceleration ensued and suddenly Ludvigsson, Enger and Ghyselinck were left alone in the lead.


A promising trio

Those three riders managed to build up a 20-second gap while the remnants of the break was picked up by the peloton. Vacansoleil were now alone doing all the work and for a moment, the move appeared to have a chance of making it to the finish.


BMC also started to help Vacansoleil but they couldn't prevent Moreno Hofland (Belkin) and Maxime Vantomme (Crelan) from making an attack. When Topsport Vlaaderen also started to chase, those two riders were brought back and the gap to the front trio was now coming down.


Enger on his own

With 2,3km to go, Enger attacked on his own while his companions were picked up by the peloton in which Dominik Nerz (BMC) did a fabulous work. With 1,7km to go, it was over for the young Norwegian as Europcar had now taken control.


NetApp-Endura were next in line but when the road started to point upwards, it was Sep Vanmarcke who made a fierce acceleration with Belkin teammate Martens in his wheel. Hushovd was well-placed in the German's wheel while the peloton splintered to pieces behind.


Martens opened up his sprint with 150m to go, and Hushovd had to dig really deep to finally come around the German by virtue of a powerful bike throw. Arndt made another good sprint to take 3rd while Van Hummel could only take 5th behind Russell Downing (NetApp-Endura).



1. Thor Hushovd 3.27.36

2. Paul Martens

3. Nikias Arndt

4. Russell Downing

5. Kenny Van Hummel

6. Tony Hurel

7. Maxime Vantomme +0.03

8. Magnus Børresen

9. Bryan Nauleau +0.06

10. Mathieu Drujon +0.08


General classification:

1. Thor Hushovd 16.09.34

2. Kenny Van Hummel +0.09

3. Nikias Arndt +0.10

4. Tony Hurel+0.16

5. Paul Martens +0.19

6. Tom Van Asbroeck +0.26

7. Marco Haller +0.27

8. Maxime Vantomme +0.28

9. Magnus Børresen

10. Barry Markus +0.30


Points classification:

1. Thor Hushovd 48

2. Kenny Van Hummel 40

3. Nikias Arndt 25

4. Barry Markus 21

5. Tom Van Asbroeck 17


Mountains classification:

1. Lars-Petter Nordhaug 20

2. August Jensen 8

3. Paul Martens 7

4. Bjørn Tore Nilsen Hoem 7

5. Sven Erik Bystrøm 6


Youth classification:

1. Nikias Arndt 16.09.44

2. Tom Van Asbroeck +0.16

3. Marco Haller +0.17

4. Magnus Børresen +0.18

5. Barry Markus +0.20


Teams classification:

1. Crelan-Euphony 48.30.23

2. Europcar +0.01

3. People4You +0.05


5. Topsport Vlaanderen +0.11



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