Thor Hushovd: "A country of skiers has taken to cycling!"

news19.06.2013Pre-race

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A protagonist in the rise of Norwegian cycling in the 2000s, Thor Hushovd reached his apotheosis when he won the World Championships in 2010. In the wake of his stint in the rainbow jersey, the BMC rider has now become the enthusiastic and proud ambassador of the Arctic Race of Norway, which he will have the honour of kicking off with race number 1 on his back next August 8. The BMC team has chosen this race as a key event in its build-up towards the Worlds.

"When I made my Tour de France debut [in 2001]," reminisces Thor Hushovd, "no-one followed me, except perhaps my local paper. The change since then has been huge and amazing! Now, everyone in Norway knows the Tour de France and watches it on television. To a great extent, a country of skiers has taken to cycling in the summer." To keep up this momentum, there was no better ambassador for the newly-created Arctic Race of Norway than the most renowned Norwegian cyclist, who has won ten stages at the Tour de France and taken two green jerseys in Paris (2005 and 2009): "The idea piqued my interest straight away", he explains. "No big events are organised in Northern Norway. Everything happens either in the south, where I come from, or in Oslo. Personally, I've never been to the Lofoten Islands, or further north still, where the Arctic Race is due to be held. I've only seen this part of my country in pictures! I've often been invited to go there, but I've never had the time or the opportunity to do so. It's great to have such a big event in a place where nature is so beautiful, at a time of the year when the weather is fair. This will be a unique experience for both riders and TV viewers."

Norwegians, who are demographically concentrated in the south of the country, are particularly fond of the far north, with its long winter night and long summer day. Vegard Ulvang, a cross-country skier who won several Olympic gold medals in the 1980s and 1990s, is their most revered sportsman for the simple reason he comes from Kirkenes, a town in the far north of the country located near the Russian border.

"The way this race will be organised is unique in our sport", continues Hushovd. "The riders will never forget riding along the fjords, the islands and the sea. Cycling is the only travelling sport which can showcase the most jaw-dropping places on Earth. Lots of viewers in the rest of the world will discover the most beautiful face of Norway thanks to footage of the Arctic Race. I'm proud of my country, so it's an honour for me to be its ambassador. I'll do everything I can to promote the inaugural edition, especially in the upcoming Tour de France. Organising such an event is the logical next step for Norwegian cycling, after bringing up riders and finding a place for our activity in the country's sporting landscape."

Following the appointment of Thor Hushovd, Christian Prudhomme described what the Norwegian's "unconventional" career evokes in him: "with a repertoire far more varied than that of run-of-the-mill sprinters, he won mass sprints, took a Pyrenean stage ending in Lourdes, conquered the green jersey thanks to the points he grabbed in the mountains, and rounded it all off by pulling on the rainbow jersey on the other side of the world... a triumph loaded with symbolism." Ever since his Australian tour de force, Thor has clearly continued to inspire his folk, and Edvald Boasson-Hagen's rise to become one of the stars of cycling is but one example of it. The heirs to the Norse dynasty are welcome to stake their claim to the Arctic Race of Norway." Meanwhile, the director of the Arctic Race of Norway, Knut-Eirik Dybdal, said he was "particularly proud that the greatest representative of Norwegian cycling has taken on a role as the official ambassador of the race".

The news in pictures

photo19/06/2013 

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Jersey wearers after the stage 4

Classifications after the stage 4

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