Thunder God strikes the Arctic Race by lightning

news14.08.2013After the race

Thor HUSHOVD and MARTENS Paul, on the finish line, Arctic Race of Norway, Stage 3 - Sortland-Harstad - Photo: Philipp Hympendahl © A.S.O.

Race ambassador and race favorite Thor Hushovd was true to his words as he also won the event of his dreams in the far north of Norway. His successful final sprint awarded him the time bonus he needed in order to pass Kenny van Hummel in the overall classification. It was not just another victory but an absolute triumph for the «Thunder God» [Thor in Scandinavian mythology] who overcame health troubles and difficult time to come back as a great champion despite missing out on the Tour de France this year.

Neirynck becomes a property owner
Prior to the arrival of the 115 competitors of the Arctic Race of Norway in Harstad, a jewel in the county of Troms surrounded by Paradisiacal islands, the race of the “heroes of tomorrow” (Arctic Morgendagens Helter Rittet) was contested by the most promising juniors and won by Kristoffer Halvorsen (Glåmdal), whose international fame already includes wins in the nations' cup at the Tour of Istria and the Trofeo Karlsberg, ahead of Anders Skaarseth (Lillehammer) and Petter Theodorsen (Ringerike). At the same time, the pro riders were excited by the promise of the mayor of Kongsvik to offer a piece of building land to the winner of the intermediate sprint located in his town at km 77 of racing. Therefore, after several skirmishes, the escape was only formed three kilometers before the crucial point where Stijn Neirynck of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise became a landlord. The Belgian was faster than his five breakaway companions: Canada national champion Zachary Bell (Champion System), Edwig Cammaerts (Cofidis), who was already noted on the offensive with five kilometers to go the day before, Filip Eidsheim (Øster Hus-Ridley), Gilles Devilliers (Crelan-Euphony) and Steven Caethoven (Accent Jobs-Wanty). But the latter was soon dropped off and brought back by the pack.

Nordhaug is the King of the Mountains
Bell's lap was with five laps to go on the finishing circuit of Harstad packed with enthusiastic spectators as the Canadian was the last breakaway rider to refuse to being reeled in. Even though Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) was already sure of being the King of the Mountains of the Arctic Race of Norway, he showed once again that he was the best climber by winning the last price of the classification he led since day 1. After his acceleration, it was all together with 25km to go. Attacks kept going on with the likes of Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan-Euphony), Reidar Borgersen (Joker-Merida), Jetse Bol (Belkin) and Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) but it went down to a bunch sprint for the last intermediate sprint with two laps to. Hushovd was beaten on the line by Tony Hurel (Europcar). It meant the Norwegian was still one second behind Kenny van Hummel on GC.

Hushovd crowns it all
The last three attackers were Sondre Holst Enger (Team Plussbank), Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano) and Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis). The young Norwegian prodigy was the last man caught with 1.7km to go. The final sprint was launched on the uphill stretch by Belkin in favor of Paul Martens but the German got passed by Hushovd who had to go very deep to grab the result he needed for winning the Arctic Race overall. Coming home in third place, stage 3 winner Nikias Arndt of Argos-Shimano confirmed a second day in a row that he's the revelation of the Arctic Race of Norway. Third overall and best young rider, the 21 year old German has boosted his confidence ahead of the first Grand Tour of his career, the Vuelta a España, starting in two weeks.

Thor Hushovd: “I couldn't let the public down”
“Well, that was deep”, reacted Thor Hushovd about the violent effort he was forced to produce for winning the final sprint uphill in the Skolegata (the school's street) at Harstad. “Having not won the last intermediate sprint, I had to gain time over Van Hummel. Winning the stage was the best way to make it. Before coming to the Arctic Race of Norway, I said I wanted to win a stage and the overall, so I feel that it is mission accomplished now. It's massive but it's been hard. I was encouraged so much by the public that I couldn't let them down. I had to win for all these people who came and support us, not only myself. I'm proud of what I've done but I'm even prouder of what my country has done for cycling this week. The support alongside the road has been incredibly fantastic, as well as the success of the race on TV. For Norwegians, this is the small Tour de France and they want it to look the same with the same enthusiasm. I don't know if I'll be the race ambassador for ever but for sure, the race has a great future.”

The news in pictures

photo11/08/2013 

Thor HUSHOVD and MARTENS Paul, on the finish line, Arctic Race of Norway, Stage 3 - Sortland-Harstad - Photo: Philipp Hympendahl © A.S.O.

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