Hushovd delivers a thrilling finale, Kruijswijk and Kristoff remain the winners

news18.08.2014After the race

Prime Minister Erna Solberg attended the conclusive stage of the Arctic Race of Norway as well as thousands of fans who cheered for exiting champion Thor Hushovd but his successor Alexander Kristoff deprived him of a successful end of a career on home soil. The farewell was touching though. For four seconds only, Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk of Belkin became the second winner of the northernmost international bike race that amazed the world again with the magical landscapes and atmosphere of northern Norway

Following the show of the “Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow” and the victory of Ole Petter Skogstad from Innland – the same region as Edvald Boasson Hagen – ahead of Andreas Jacobsen (Vestlandet) and Victor Køhler (Sørlandet) in the U19 category, nine riders formed a breakaway at the exit of Tromsø: Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Nico Sijmens (Wanty), Laurent Evrard (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Romain Pillon (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Andreas Vangstad (Sparebanken Sør), August Jensen (Øster Hus-Ridley) and Adrian Gjølberg ( Jensen, the only pro cyclist from the north of Norway, hailing from Bodø, consolidated his lead in the King of the Mountain competition as he made it first to the crest of Kattfjordeidet after 19.5 kilometres of racing. 
The advantage of the nine leaders reached two minutes after 40km. Wearing the “Viking of the Day” jersey after riding with dedication at the service of Simon Spilak on stage 3, Katusha's Anton Vorobyev reduced the gap on the way back to Tromsø. Among all attackers on the finishing circuit, Sweden's Jan Karlsson (Ringeriks-Kraft) was the last man to surrender. Katusha and Cannondale put the hammer down as they eyed victory for Kristoff and the final podium for Davide Villela who eventually had to be happy with the best young rider jersey and the fourth place overall.

Once passed the summit of the Tromsø hill, Thor Hushovd attacked in the downhill with two kilometers remaining. He almost made it but it was a cruel end of the winner of the inaugural Arctic Race of Norway last year. Kristoff overtook him in the last 100 metres to claim the third stage win for Katusha in three days. Only four seconds went missing for the 27 year old from Stavanger to win overall as well. Kruijswijk took the first stage race victory of his career.

“Till the very end, I didn't know if I'd catch Thor who made a good move and went very fast in the downhill”, Kristoff commented. “He's technically so good that I doubted I could win against him. I'm his successor now and I'm delighted with two stage wins and a top 3 overall position at the Arctic Race of Norway after the Tour de France.”

Kristoff's state of mind was opposite to Hushovd's. The 2010 world champion didn't hide his disappointment. “I gave everything I had to get the victory”, he said. “I had to try to do it. When I got beaten on the line like this for my last race in Norway, it's hard. The crowd was incredible today. I really wanted to win for myself obviously and also for everyone here, the race organizers and everyone here in northern Norway. I got a huge applaud coming in but I missed the last victory I wanted.”

“To win the Arctic Race of Norway is a very important step in my career”, commented Kruijswijk. “I've had to deal with injuries in the past two years but coming back and winning is stepping stone in my career. I'll bring great memories back at home, not only because of winning but also because it's special to race so far north, including at the North Cape. The race was very well organized and the course suited me. A lot of riders were happy with the event.”

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Jersey wearers after the stage 4

Classifications after the stage 4


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