- I like your jersey!
These words belonged to Norway's greatest cycling star, Thor Hushovd, the day before the Arctic Race of Norway 2013. The compliment was given to 14-year-old Vegard from Bodø cycling club, who for the occasion had swapped his own club's colours with those of BMC.
- So do I! Vegard replied and received the autograph from Hushovd, while representatives of the Norwegian sports press took pictures and interviewed both young and experienced cyclists
The encounter was made possible by the Race Ambassador, who had invited the local cyclists to join him for the morning exercise. Through his Instagram profile, Hushovd had requested proposals for a nice loop, starting from the city centre of Bodø. Consequently, an unforgettable group of cyclists rode out of Bodø that morning, with riders of different age, form and ambition. And at the heart of this special peloton, you could find the 2010 World Champion, Thor Hushovd.
© Trym Ivar Bergsmo / ARNThe example points to the special meetings that may arise within the context of an international cycling race and the close contact between the professional athletes and their fans, even on a top level. Of course, not all young riders get the same deal as Vegard, but the chance of meeting a professional rider in full exclusivity is definitely there for those who follow the Arctic Race of Norway.
It is no secret that organisers and partners of the ARN warmly welcome these spontaneous meetings. In addition, some meetings are planned. The Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow race, organised in collaboration with the Norwegian Cycling Federation and main sponsor Statoil, is perhaps the best example. The top 18- and 19-year-olds in Norway, boys and girls, get to ride just before the pros arrive, on the same roads and in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Last year the young talents also got to meet Hushovd and Dag-Otto Lauritzen during a special seminar, highlighting both talent development and the values which tomorrow's top cyclists should use as pillars.
For those who remember our 2013 prize ceremonies, another important element was recurrent for all stages: among the prominent guests who handed out flowers and jerseys to the winners, you could find a young talent from the local cycling club. Judged by the photos, you couldn't always tell who felt the most like that day's hero.
Regardless, the philosophy of making room on the podium for our young talents is one we believe firmly in. It will no doubt inspire this year's edition of the Arctic Race of Norway. We therefore look forward to new and memorable meetings between heroes in August 2014.py