The Teams of the Arctic Race
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Aug 12, 2015 – With the participation of Norwegian stars Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen as well as Tour de France top contenders Mathias Frank, Bryan Coquard, Louis Meintjes and Rein Taraamäe, the third edition of the Arctic Race of Norway is ready to get underway in Harstad on August 13. The world’s northernmost bike race also has a bright future as partnership with the main sponsor has been extended for the next three years.
ASO/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad
Harstad, the hosting town of the first ever Arctic Race of Norway’s grand finale won in a thrilling manner by the event ambassador Thor Hushovd in 2013, welcomed the 131 participants of the third edition. The municipality of the Troms county is the starting point this time around but the event is once again an unknown affair as even the Norwegian cyclists ignore the exact difficulty of the new venues since they only travel so far north once a year. Edvald Boasson Hagen’s first participation is highly expected along with Tour of Flanders winner Alexander Kristoff who is the world’s most successful pro cyclist in 2015 up to date although he’s hungry for more after returning home from the Tour de France empty handed. Experts predict the race to be decided by time bonus on the last day of racing in Narvik on August 16.
“I’ve only come to this part of Norway at the age of 19 for the 2006 national championship I finished second to Lars-Petter Nordhaug but never this far north”, Boasson Hagen declared. “Two years ago, I had an injured shoulder from the Tour de France and last year, I was riding the Eneco Tour so I’m looking forward to discovering the Arctic Race of Norway. Since I won a stage at the Tour of Denmark last week, I can say that I’m on good form but I actually don’t know how much tired I am after the Tour de France but I’m hoping to win something here as well.”
Norwegian sprinters will face the fierce competition of Europcar’s Bryan Coquard who was André Greipel’s runner on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. “The Arctic Race of Norway is my come-back race”, said the Frenchman. “This is my first time here but my team-mates Angelo Tulik and Tony Hurel who have done it before have spoken highly of northern Norway. It’s an amazing place for a bike race. I hope to win at least a stage. I’m able to do that. I expect Kristoff to be very strong at home but he’s not the only sprinter in contention.” The field features up and coming fast men Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida), Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling), Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Daniel McLay (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Jonas Ahlstrand (Cofidis) but also experienced men Theo Bos and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka).
Among GC contenders, Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) who finished eighth overall at the Tour de France and Rein Taraamäe (Astana) who won the Tour of Burgos in Spain last week will be closely watched out. “After I got sick with fever (38°) in the same room as Lars Boom at half way into the Tour de France, I wanted to bounce back quickly”, the Estonian explained. “With my win in Burgos, I’m super motivated for the last part of the season. I’m not sure if the course of the Arctic Race of Norway is hard enough for me. I’m not a punchy climber but tactics can help.” “I felt tired at San Sebastian one week after the Tour de France but I think I have recovered and I’m targeting a good result in stage 3”, Frank echoed. “GC should result from stage 3, so I’m motivated for GC as well.”
Beyond the third edition expected to be another thrilling one, the Arctic Race of Norway has led the way to guarantee the organisation of the event over the years to come with the extension of its partnership agreement with Statoil for additional three years (2016-2018). As announced by the CEO of Statoil, Eldar Sætre, the international energy company will continue as Main Partner of the Arctic Race of Norway, including the organisation of the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race, which has become a key event for the next generation of Norwegian and international cyclists ahead of the last stage. “The North of Norway is an important region for Statoil and we want to contribute to promote and develop the area. Arctic Race of Norway has through its first two years established itself firmly on the international cycling calendar and as an attraction in the north. We are glad to renew the constructive partnership with the Arctic Race and look forward to this year`s race and the three following years”, Eldar Sætre added this morning.
The Arctic Race of Norway will be broadcasted on TV in 180 countries, including a live coverage by nine broadcasters (Eurosport 1 in Europe) and full stage coverage on stages 3 and 4 on TV2 Norway. The audience will witness the new challenges put together by the Norwegian salmon farmers who sponsor the King of the Mountains jersey, including 500 KG of salmon given to the first rider that reaches the summit of Lavangseidet on stage 2. “Through the ages, Norway will always be known for its seafood as much as its wonderful landscapes”, race ambassador Thor Hushovd told the press in Harstad. In addition, the total winner of the salmon jersey and his team will be offered a dinner with one of the world’s best chefs.