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Dutch sprint duo holds off Selig, Hofland and crowd favourite Hushovd in bunch kick at the end of a rainy day dominated by aggressive Belkin showing

Photo: Sirotti










08.08.2013 @ 15:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kenny Van Hummel and Barry Markus gave Vacansoleil some much-needed success when the duo made it a 1-2 for the Dutch in the first stage of the inaugural Arctic Tour of Norway. The Dutchmen benefited from a huge work by the BMC team of home favourite Thor Hushovd to neutralize and aggressive showing from the Belkin team and had enough power left to hold off Rudiger Selig (Katusha) in the final bunch sprint.


Vacansoleil's future is under threat and the team hasn't had much success this season but today the Dutch sprint duo of Kenny Van Hummel and Barry Markus gave the team a reason to celebrate when they took the top-2 places in the first stage of the inaugural Arctic Tour of Norway. On a cold and rainy day in the beautiful northern part of Norway, they came out on top in the bunch sprint that came at the end of a tough and hilly stage.


Home favourite Thor Hushovd had used most of his small 6-rider BMC team to neutralize the dangerous Belkin duo of Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Sep Vanmarcke who were the longest-standing members of an 8-rider breakaway and so he was left to fend for himself in the hectic final sprint. Despite getting into a good position, he simply hadn't enough power to come around his Vacansoleil rivals and had to settle for fourth while Rudiger Selig made up for the loss of team captain Alexander Kristoff who had cancelled his participation due to pneumonia, by finishing 3rd.


With the win, Van Hummel of course also takes the first leader's jersey in the brand-new event and he will wear the blue tunic in tomorrow's 156,5km second stage around Svolvær which should be another one for the sprinters. Only the short uphill finish in stage 4 has the potential to challenge the sprinters and Van Hummel may now fancy his chances of taking a rare overall win in a stage race.


8 riders on the attack

The inaugural Tour of Norway kicked off with a 192,5km stage around Bodø in beautiful surroundings and cold, rainy conditions. Despite some climbs at the midpoint of what should be the toughest stage of the race, the flat finish meant that the stage was expected to be decided in a bunch sprint.


Early on, 8 riders tried to change that predicted outcome by going on the attack and Sep Vanmarcke, Lars-Petter Nordhaug (both Belkin), Angelo Tulik (Europcar), Marco Haller (Katusha), Stijn Neirynck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Kevin Van Melsen (, Vegard Robinson Bugge (Joker Merida) and Filip Eidsheim (Oster Hus-Ridley) managed to build up a large gap. Behind, the peloton gradually started to organize a chase as BMC and Argos-Shimano came to the fore to prepare a sprint win for Hushovd and Jonas Ahlstrand respectively.


The group splits up

Over the climbs, the front group split up and as the race entered the final mostly flat 40km, only 4 riders were left in front. Tulik, Nordhaug, Vanmarcke and Haller were, however, now less than 1.30 ahead of the peloton in which Argos and BMC were now getting assistance from the Cofidis team who wanted to set up Jan Ghyselinck for a sprint win.


As the gap had come down to 30 seconds, Vanmarcke attacked with 34,4km to go and only Haller was able to match his speed. Gradually Norhaug also bridged across and while Tulik also shortly got back on, he fell behind on a big bridge and was picked up by the fast-moving peloton.


Belkin rides aggressively

The Belkin duo had no intensions of bringing the fast Haller to the finish line and so Vanmarcke made another attack a little later. Nordhaug was, however, the only one to be left behind but the Norwegian managed to claw his way back on.


With 27km to go, it was Nordhaug who made the next acceleration and Vanmarcke of course refused to close the gap. Instead, he made a furious acceleration to bridge across which forced Haller to fall back into the peloton.


More teams start to chase

For a long time, the Belkin duo held a stable 50-second gap over the peloton in which Topsport Vlaanderen (for Tom Van Asbroeck), Europcar (for Sebastien Turgot), Vacansoleil (for Van Hummel and Markus) and Oster Hus-Ridley (for Sondre-Holst Enger) had now also started to contribute to the chase. Turgot moved ahead to beat a BigMat rider in the sprint for the final bonus second in the third intermediate sprint at the 18km to go mark.


As Katusha no longer had Haller in the front group, the Russian team joined forces with BMC, Argos-Shimano and the other chasers and that spelled the end for the Belkin duo which was brought back with 8km to go. From then it was Oster Hus Ridley who took control until Europcar took over with 5km to go.


Martens with a gutsy move

With 2,5km to go, a Cofidis rider attacked but he was overtaken by Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil) who had made a counterattack. A little later Paul Martens (Belkin) accelerated and the German suddenly found himself as the lone leader. Behind, Argos-Shimano had hit the front in full forces and were doing an awful lot of work to bring everything back together.


Just after the flamme rouge, they succeeded in their mission and despite getting challenged by Crelan-Euphony who worked for Baptiste Planckaert, the Dutchmen delivered Ahlstrand perfectly. However, the Swede lacked the power to finish off the work and instead it was Van Hummel who shot out from the peloton on the left side of the road and came around Hushovd who had started his sprint a little earlier. Markus came from behind to also get past the Norwegian BMC rider to make it a beautiful day for Vacansoleil in Norway.



1. Kenny Van Hummel 4.23.45

2. Barry Markus

3. Rudiger Selig

4. Thor Hushovd

5. Jetse Bol

6. Jonas Ahlstrand

7. Jo Ringheim

8. August Jensen

9. Ralf Matzka

10. Jan Ghyselinck


General classification:

1. Kenny Van Hummel 4.23.35

2. Barry Markus +0.04

3. Rüdiger Selig +0.06

4. Sebastien Turgot

5. Thor Hushovd +0.07

6. Sep Vanmarcke

7. Matthias Friedemann +0.08

8. Kevin Van Melsen

9. Jetse Bol +0.10

10. Jonas Ahlstrand


Points classification:

1. Kenny Van Hummel 15

2. Barry Markus 12

3. Thor Hushovd 10

4. Rüdiger Selig 9

5. Jetse Bol 6


Mountains classification:

1. Lars-Petter Nordhaug 12

2. Paul Martens 6

3. Bjørn Tore Nilsen Hoem 5

4. Sep Vanmarcke 4

5. Preben Van Hecke 4


Youth classification:

1. Barry Markus 4.23.39

2. Rüdiger Selig +0.02

3. Sep Vanmarcke +0.03

4. Jetse Bol +0.06

5. Jonas Ahlstrand


Teams classification:

1. Vacansoleil 13.11.15

2. Topsport Vlaanderen

3. Cofidis

4. Europcar

5. Champion System



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