Three generations of fast and strong Norwegian cyclists will be confronted on the occasion of the first Arctic Race of Norway between August 8 and August 11. Thor Hushovd, 35, Alexander Kristoff, 26, and Sondre Holst Enger, 19, intend to show the rest of the world what Norwegian hospitality is about, as well as Norwegian speed and determination on the bike.
Thor Hushovd's victory in stage 3 of the Tour of Poland came at the right time to highlight the undisputed competitiveness of Norway's iconic cyclist at the World Tour level of cycling. “I've found confidence again and my team-mates trust me as well”, he reacted from Rzeszow Podkarpackie ahead of the Arctic Race of Norway for which he serves as the official ambassador. On August 8, he'll take the start in Bodø at the helm of a very motivated BMC Racing team alongside fast Briton Adam Blythe and Swiss prodigy Silvan Dillier who is a newcomer in the group after winning the Tour of Normandy for their development squad.
This year, Hushovd didn't take part in the Tour de France where he won ten stages in the past as well as the green jersey twice (in 2005 and 2009), at the difference of Alexander Kristoff who made impressive debuts by scoring a second place at the end of stage 1 in Bastia. In his home town of Grimstad, Hushovd outsprinted Kristoff for the national champion title at the end of June. They're both in competition for one of the three spots available in the national team for the world championship in September, a race Hushovd won in Geelong, Australia, three years ago.
“Between the Tour de France and one-day races in Hamburg and Plouay, I'm delighted to be able to race at home”, said Kristoff who will get a great help at Katusha from his lead-out men Rüdiger Selig and Marco Haller to cap off the work of Russian time triallists Mikhail Ignatiev, Maxim Belkov and Timofey Kritskiy. “I expect a race of a very high level because there are a lot of young talents in Norway.”
Among the six Norwegian continental teams, mostly formed of up-and-coming riders, Sondre Holst Enger will be watched closely. Coached at Team Plussbank by Greg LeMond's former team-mate Atle Kvålsvoll, he came under the spotlights when he finished third overall at the Glava Tour of Norway in May. “The Arctic Race of Norway is an important step towards my goals for the end of the season: the Tour de l'Avenir and the U23 world championship”, said the young man who also hails from Grimstad and is courted by several top-tier teams.
Belkin Pro Cycling, with Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Paris-Roubaix runner up Sep Vanmarcke, will probably be the first team to try and avoid bunch sprints, starting from stage 1 that includes a steep hill after Rognan. The two other Dutch Pro Teams, Argos-Shimano and Vacansoleil-DCM, will line up ambitious sprinters: the young Nikias Arndt who is set to be the next Marcel Kittel but also able to overcome some climbs, in one camp, and the fast trio made of Barry Markus, Kenny van Hummel and Boy van Poppel in the other one.
120 riders representing 20 teams and 16 nations (including Hong Kong, Canada and New-Zealand) have entered the Arctic Race of Norway for a unique experience at the discovery of the sublime landscapes above the Arctic circle.