20 teams in the mix at the Arctic Race of Norway


Thor Hushovd and Alexander Kristoff - © A.S.O. / P.Perreve

While the peloton of the 100th Tour de France enjoyed the second rest day in Vaison-la-Romaine, Yann Le Moënner and Christian Prudhomme met the organisers of the Arctic Race of Norway to unveil the first edition of the northernmost international cycling race ever, which will be held on August 8-11. Race ambassador Thor Hushovd and 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Alexander Kristoff were also there.

These are the chosen teams:
Accent Jobs-Wanty, Belkin Pro Cycling, BigMat-Auber 93, BMC Racing Team, Champion System Pro Cycling Team, Cofidis Solutions Crédit, Crelan-Euphony, Froy-Bianchi, Joker-Merida, Katusha, Oneco Cycling Team, Ringeriks Kraft Look, Team Argos-Shimano, Team Europcar, Team Netapp-Endura, Team Øster Hus Ridley, Team People4you-Unaas Cycling, Team Plussbank, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, and Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team.

The selection strikes the perfect balance among Pro Teams (5), pro continental teams (7) and continental teams (8). The Norse stars in the World Tour peloton are likely to be on the start line, including national champion Thor Hushovd (BMC), who sparked the cycling fever which has gripped the country for a decade; Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), runner-up in the Tour opener in Bastia; and Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin), the loyal domestique of Bauke Mollema, who lay just behind leader Chris Froome as the Grande Boucle headed for the Alps.

The aim of the Arctic Race of Norway is to foster and develop Nordic talent, which is the rationale behind the selection of the six Norwegian continental teams and a Swedish one. Among them, Joker-Merida, the factory which has produced most of the great Norwegian cyclists in today's peloton and has another one fresh off the line in the shape of Vegard Breen, winner of last month's Ronde de l'Oise; as well as Team Plussbank, which will be fielding whizz kid Sondre Holst Enger, the 19-year-old who took the Coupe des Nations in Saguenay and finished third in May's Glava Tour of Norway.

Giving these young cyclists the opportunity to compete against Tour de France riders is an integral part of the philosophy of the Arctic Race of Norway, which joined forces with the Norwegian Cycling Federation and main event sponsor Statoil to launch "The Race of the Heroes of Tomorrow" (Morgendagens Helter Rittet). Seven regional teams with no more than four girls and six boys aged 17 to 18 each will go head-to-head on a 6 km circuit in Harstad before the champions of today make their dash for the line.

The Arctic Race of Norway consists of four stages, all of them in the High North, where breathtaking coastal landscapes are bathed in almost infinite daylight.
August 8: Bodø–Bodø
August 9: Svolvær–Svolvær
August 10: Svolvær–Stokmarknes
August 11: Sortland–Harstad

A few words from those present:

Yann Le Moënner, General Director of Amaury Sport Organisation: "This race ties in perfectly with ASO's development strategy, which is to always be on the lookout for events with a unique flavour. Norway's stunning landscapes and enthusiasm make this a dead certainty at the Arctic Race."

Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France: "A breath of fresh wind blows in our sails as we set course for this adventure in the Arctic Circle, which will become a majestic destination for the riders, as well as a prestigious race for those who manage to put their names on the honour roll."

Knut-Eirik Dybdal, General Director of Arctic Race of Norway AS: "Our main objective is to turn the Arctic Race of Norway into the major sporting event in Northern Norway, among other things, by guaranteeing top-notch organisation, in no small part thanks to the help of our partners in ASO."

Thor Hushovd, BMC: "I'm proud to get the opportunity to promote this awesome race among my colleagues in the peloton and the public at large as the ambassador of the Arctic Race of Norway. It goes without saying that I'll be going for the overall victory."

Alexander Kristoff, Katusha: "Seeing the enthusiasm of the Norwegian supporters out in force since the start of the Tour de France, and even more so on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux yesterday, I have no doubt this passion will also be seen along the roads of Northern Norway."

The news in pictures


Thor Hushovd and Alexander Kristoff - © A.S.O. / P.Perreve

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Classifications after the stage 4


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