One week after winning two stages and the points jersey at the Vuelta a Burgos, Danny Van Poppel (Sky) confirmed that he is the in-form sprinter at the moment when he beat all the stars in the uphill sprint on stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway. The Dutchman timed his sprint to perfection and just managed to come around John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) who again had to settle for second place. As Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) could only manage sixth, Van Poppel also moves into the race lead.
We have gathered several reactions.
Danny Van Poppel: I am proud to beat the big sprinters
Danny van Poppel continued his fine run of form by winning stage two of the Arctic Race in style.
After great work from Andy Fenn and Ben Swift in the closing stages, Van Poppel rounded John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) to launch a long sprint and pip the German to the line in Sandnessjoen, after expert positioning on the final rise inside the last kilometre.
Following his third place on day one the win moves Van Poppel into a two-second race lead and to the top of the points standings, while he also stays at the top of the young rider classification.
It caps a fantastic two weeks for the Dutchman, who won the opening two sprint stages of the Vuelta a Burgos, and he's likely to be in the mix on the sprinter-friendly stage four in Norway.
Speaking to TeamSky.com after the stage, Van Poppel said: "I'm really happy with this win because I beat the big sprinters. Yesterday I was there, but today I beat them.
"The team did a great job, Andy Fenn and Ben Swift helped me really well, and at the end I was on the wheel of Degenkolb. He started to sprint and I felt that I had the power so I tried to come over him and I thought it was really, really close. My feeling was that I'd won, but I didn't celebrate because I wasn't sure. It was just half a wheel in the end.
"I'm happy with this win and I'm really happy in this team. The guys helped me really well - and that's why I joined Team Sky.
"It was really tight. I wasn't sure if I had won but I'm really happy. My team did a great job. I knew it was a hard sprint. It was also a long day on the bike.
”Normally I'm behind riders like Degenkolb, Kristoff and Démare, but I was first today and it makes me very happy to beat someone like John Degenkolb. I was on his wheel. I came over him. I felt that I was a little bit faster. My feeling was that I won but I didn't want to celebrate without being sure that I was the winner.
”It's a big honor to lead the Arctic Race of Norway but tomorrow, we have other riders to go for the overall ranking. It's an uphill finish, it's not my specialty. I'll try to help the team because they helped me today and I hope for another sprint on Sunday.”
Gianni Moscon came home 23rd, with Lars Petter Nordhaug and Sebastian Henao also finishing in the main bunch ahead of the critical stage three for the GC contenders.
John Degenkolb after another near-miss: The shape is there
The peloton kept the escape in check before reeling them back in with 12km to go, with a helping hand from the Team Giant-Alpecin guys along the way.
On the final finishing lap all was set for a fast finish, and the team got John Degenkolb into a strong position on the drag up to the finishing straight, with Roy Curvers putting in a big effort at the end to open up the sprint. As Degenkolb came through he looked to have control but one rider managed to pass him just before the line to leave Degenkolb with another second place. He also sits second in the green jersey classification as well as the overall GC.
After the stage, Degenkolb summed up his thoughts from the finish: “The feelings were really good today – the shape is there and we were very close today.”
Coach, Dirk Reuling added: “It was a long stage today at over 198km. There was a front group of six riders that got five minutes as Katusha started to chase. We put Max [Walscheid] up there too after 120km as John was feeling good. In the final the lead-out was not perfect but John was in a good position taking second place on the line.”
Moreno Hofland proud of third place in tough sprint in Norway
Moreno Hofland finished third in the second stage of the Arctic Sea Race. In the Norwegian city Sandnessjøen today, Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter fell just short of winner Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) and John Degenkolb (Giant - Alpecin) in second.
“It was clear that this race was going to end up in a bunch sprint,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “We did everything we could to put Moreno Hofland in a good position. He was in Danny van Poppel’s wheel. It was a strong sprint, full of top sprinters. Of course, we want to win, but I think that he can be satisfied with this third place. It’s a good result, according to me.”
“This is a good result,” Hofland said. “The final part of the race was chaotic and it was impossible to build a real lead-out. We anticipated well on that with the team and managed to stay together. Sep Vanmarcke passed me in the final 500 metres, but I chose to take Danny van Poppel’s wheel. We did a good job with the team and I’m satisfied about this result.”
Giacomo Nizzolo: This fourth place gives me confidence
The Arctic Race of Norway's stage two ended in an uphill sprint to the line where Giacomo Nizzolo finished in fourth place.
Similar to the first day, the team was instrumental in the final stages of the 198.5-kilometer race, helping bring back the day's breakaway before Marco Coledan kicked the lead-out train into action with just under four kilometers to go.
It was a hard finish to control with a predominantly uphill road for the final kilometer, but Boy van Poppel followed the work of Niccolo Bonifazio and led Nizzolo seamlessly to the last meters. When the sprinters kicked into overdrive, it was Danny van Poppel (Sky) edging out John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) for the win, while Nizzolo threw his bike, inches from finishing third.
"I have had two months with no races," pointed out Nizzolo, realistic about his chances under the circumstances. "It was not an easy final three kilometers, they were mostly uphill, and I am quite happy with how I finished. I was short of the podium by centimeters, and this gives me confidence.
"But what is especially good is the attitude of the team. They were great in the last circuits, and again at the end; they are 100% committed each day. Tomorrow is a day where we will save energy, and I hope that Sunday we can finish with a better result for all our hard work."
Alexander Kristoff: We paid the price for our hard work
It was a fast and chaotic finish that brought the peloton into Sandnessjøen for the stage two finish in the 4th Arctic Race of Norway on Friday, with another group sprint ending the day. This time Team Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff found himself a little out of position to earn victory, settling instead for sixth place behind winner Danny van Poppel of Team Sky.
“The final was chaotic. I think Marco Haller almost crashed so he had to brake and I lost him at that point. I somehow came around and was in an OK position, but all the time it felt stressful, looking left, looking right. I waited for Marco and Jacopo Guarnieri but we weren’t able to come back together so in the end I was too far back for the sprint and didn’t have a chance for the win. Things weren’t working so well for us in the last 5k today. Normally we are able to stay together much better. I didn’t find a good rhythm to work off of someone else, perhaps because it felt so chaotic, and I couldn’t stay well on the wheel. In the end I was just too far back,” explained stage 1 winner Alexander Kristoff, who praised the work of Sven Erik Bystrøm and Viatcheslav Kuznetsov all day long.
”It really was a collective failure of the whole team. We could not stay together in the front. Then I was too far behind. My legs were good today. But I saw in the end that this was not going to work out.
“Just like yesterday it was quite chaotic and some near-crashes. I was a bit unlucky right before the sprint and was hampered. The body worked fine today. Therefore, it is disappointing that it did not work out.
“We had the leader’s jersey. Therefore it was natural that we had to take responsibility. That's the problem with (only) six riders on the team. Then you have no team in the end and it gets a little more unpredictable.
“Many teams had fresh legs but we didn’t. Then it becomes difficult. We were spread outand unable to take command in the end. We had used two riders to control the break. If we had had another two fresh riders, it would have been another matter.
“It might go better, hopefully. At least we don’t have to take responsibility.”
”The whole team must work well for Alex to win. But you cannot win every day. It goes up and down in this sport,” Bystrøm told procycling.no.
Stage honors and the new race lead both went to van Poppel, who now leads by 2-seconds to today’s second place finisher John Degenkolb of Team Giant-Alpecin. After one day in the blue race leader’s jersey, Kristoff moves to third place at four-seconds on the general classification.
Saturday is the mountain stage featuring a summit finish. At 160k, the day begins in Nesna and ends uphill in Korgfjellet. Team Katusha’s defending champion Rein Taaramäe will look to make a statement on stage three.
Andrea Guardini looking forward to final stage in Norway
Andrea Guardini finished seventh.
“Preparing for the final sprint I took the wheel I thought would be the right one, Kristoff’s,” explained Andrea Guardini after the finish. “Unfortunately, he lost a couple of very important riders in the final kilometres and in the sprint we remained boxed in without the chance to do our sprint at full power.”
A restored Andrea Guardini spoke after the end of the second stage of this Artic Race of Norway:
“Here in Norway the race routes are never entirely flat like the ones that I really like. Yesterday we decided to do the sprint with my team mate Tleubayev who did pretty good by finishing seventh. Today it was my turn and I thought that yesterday’s winner Kristoff would have been the best to follow: it didn’t go as I thought but I’m positive because I was there to fight for the win. Tomorrow there will be an uphill final and Sunday, for the last stage, I know it should be a really sprinter’s stage with no hills but only flat roads and high speed,” concluded the Italian sprinter of the Astana Pro Team.
Today stage has been won by the Dutch, Danny Van Poppel, with Guardini seventh.
In-form Oscar Gatto targets podium in Norwegian queen stage
After finishing just outside of the top ten on yesterday’s opening sprint stage, Oscar Gatto went a few places better today to finish eighth on the second day’s sprint at the Arctic Race of Norway. In a hectic bunch finish, Juraj Sagan brought Gatto into position before he fought hard right to the line against some of the fastest sprinters in the peloton.
Gatto moves up to sixth on GC after the stage, and with a tough mountain top finish tomorrow, there’s a chance of shake up in the overall classification before another chance of a fast finish on the fourth and final stage.
Heading into the finish, the front of the peloton was constantly changing, but the guys did a good job of bringing Gatto up the side, with Sagan doing the last big pull to get him further up the field before Gatto make his effort in the final few hundred metres from which point he was able to sprint to a top 10 on the stage.
Sport Director Bruno Cenghialta told after the stage:
“As expected, today's stage came to a conclusion with a bunch sprint. The guys did a nice job today. Nikolay Trusov, Juraj Sagan and Michael Kolar worked hard and positioned Oscar in the front. The last two kilometers were tough and although Oscar was well-positioned, unfortunately, he didn't have the perfect spot for the final sprint. He took eighth and could have edged out two or three more positions but we should keep in mind that he was there, with some of the best and strongest sprinters in the world. Overall, it was a good day for us.
“Tomorrow, we have the race's queen stage with a summit finish. However, the final climb of 550m is 8km long, so it isn't extraordinarily hard and suits Oscar. We will do our best to clinch a top-three finish. We will try it."
BMC: We tried to create chaos in the finale
Stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway came down to a bunch sprint as expected, with Daniel Oss sprinting to ninth place for the second day in a row.
In a similar turn of events to stage 1, the peloton allowed six riders to break clear to hover around four minutes in front for much of the 198.5km stage.
More attacks started as the peloton reeled the breakaway in approaching the final category 2 climb with ten kilometers to go. Loïc Vliegen launched his own attack inside the final three kilometers and managed to stay out in front until the sprinters’ teams brought things back together two kilometers before the line, setting things up for the bunch sprint won by Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky).
With two top ten stage results Oss now sits in seventh place on the General Classification going into stage 3, which is likely to shake up the overall standings.
Loïc Vliegen said:
“It was actually an easy stage with the breakaway going away and the sprinters’ teams controlling the race all day. It was difficult to attack in the final but I tried to go with three kilometers to go because it these last kilometers were on a false flat uphill. I was caught in the last two kilometers and from there it was a pretty chaotic sprint.”
Sports director Klaas Lodewyck added:
“We could see already from the beginning that the sprinters’ teams would control the race as it was a good stage for them. I asked the guys in the meeting this morning to launch a sprint or an attack at the end because we know that with Daniel Oss, he’s not the fastest sprinter but he is always good when it is a bit chaotic. It was up and down so Loïc Vliegen launched an attack and it was good, you never know when the peloton has a little struggle you can stay in front. At the end we could put Daniel up there to do a good sprint and he finished ninth so he’s now sitting in seventh on GC which is good for us tomorrow because we’ll have a good car positioning on what will be a tricky stage.
“Everybody got through the stage safely without crashing or spending a lot of energy so I think everyone will be 100 percent tomorrow. Stage 3 will have bad weather and it’s up and down most of the day, with an almost 9km climb with a 6.8 percent average so for sure it’s there that everything will happen so I hope everyone recovers well and we can go for the win.”
Disappointed August Jensen impresses in tough sprint in Norway
August Jensen (Sparebanken) finished 10th.
”On the circuit, it was extremely hectic, so it was about positioning.Unfortunately I had a bad position in the sprint. All in all I am unhappy, he told procycling.no. “I could clearly have done better if the position had been better, at least top five. I had very good speed when I got going but that's how it is. I've trained my sprint a lot and done several sprints in training, he says.
“Tomorrow I won’t follow the best but I hope that the best are only 5-6 riders and that I can be in the second group. The GC riders have been quiet until now so we'll see what we can achieve.”
Alexander Kamp misses out in Norwegian sprint
Alex Kirsch showed himself in the breakaway on stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway (2.HC). In the sprint, Alexander Kamp could take a 14th place for Team Stölting Service Group.
Six riders including Alex Kirsch got away after ten of the 198.5 km. At the Korgfjellet mountain sprint after 44.5 km where Kirsch took third place they had built an advantage of 4:30 minutes. But that was as much as the peloton led by Team Katusha of yesterday’s stage winner Alexander Kristoff would give them. During the stage, Alex Kirsch developed stomach problems and couldn’t take on any food; with 80 km to go he had to drop back from the front group who continued without him.
When the race reached the island of Alsta with the finishing town of Sandnessjøen, the gap was down to 1:30 minutes. It was reduced further on the two laps of the 14 km finishing circuit, and the remaining escapees were caught early on the final lap. Fabian Wegmann put in an attack on the short climb of Kleivskaret, but didn’t get away. When a final attacker had been caught, it was time for the sprint. Alexander Kamp had been brought to the front by Michael Reihs and kept himself in position in the final, but couldn’t compete with the other teams’ sprint trains on the last kilometre and finished 14th. Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) won the stage and also took the overall lead.
Alexander Kamp said: “Michael Reihs piloted me well, and Fabian also helped to keep the pace high with his attack. In the final I had to accelerate again and again to keep my position, and on the final kilometre there was nothing left to sprint with.”
Jay Thomson tests himself in breakaway in Norway
Jay Thomson flew the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka flag proudly on today’s 2nd stage by making the 6-rider break of the day. Thomson was one of the first attackers of the day, as he rode away with 2 other riders just 5km from the start in Mo I Rana. 3 more riders then came across to the trio a few kilometers later to complete the move. Thomson and co. were caught just before the start of the final ascent of the short, steep climb with FDJ now also contributing to the chase.
The peloton was able to stay together over the climb and Tyler Farrar was the man doing another stellar job to position Youcef Reguigui for the final. The finish was not totally straightforward though with the final 500m rising continually. It was a real strongman’s sprint which Van Poppel showed he was up for. Reguigui had to settle for 17th in the end.
Jay Thomson said:
“It was good to stretch the legs in the break today. I wanted to go yesterday and it didn’t work out so I gave it another try today and it worked. The break rode well today but after the first climb we never really rode full, we were waiting to see what the peloton would do. Unfortunately on a day like today, it was always going to be a bunch sprint. Anyway, I’m happy with how the day went in the end and really love racing here in Norway.”
Andreas Schillinger targets mountains jersey in Norway
Bora-Argon 18 pulled on the front of the peloton to catch the break before the last KOM of the day and to allow Andreas Schillinger to fight for some points. He was second in the KOM classification after his superb performance yesterday and keen to also give it go today. He took one point in the last KOM of the day which was not enough to take the jersey.
In the final the team supported Sam Bennett to take on the sprint, but he still is not 100% after his hard crash in the Tour de France. So Zak Dempster was the best rider of Bora-Argon 18 in 27th place. In the GC Andreas Schillinger is now in 5th place.
“The team did a great job to help Schilli in the last KOM. Also afterwards it looked promising for the sprint. But at WorldTour level you really have to be at 100% to fight for a win, and Sam is still not at his best after his crash in the Tour,” André Schulze, sports director, said.
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