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More stars in the making in the wake of Kristoff's Tour de France successes

news07.08.2014Pre-race

© A.S.O

Alexander Kristoff is the new star of Norwegian cycling. As he's taking over from soon-to-be retired Thor Hushovd, he already sees a strong wave of young super talents coming up. They'll all line up at the second Arctic Race of Norway from August 14 to 17.

When Alexander Kristoff delivered his first stage victory at the Tour de France in Saint-Etienne on the twelfth day of racing, Thor Hushovd sent him a text message: “Nine to go.” Norwegian fans were worried about the small number of their compatriots taking part in the world's biggest race in the absence of ten time stage winner Hushovd, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Vegard Breen and Vegard Stake Laengen who were left out of their respective teams BMC, Sky, Belkin, Lotto-Belisol and Bretagne-Séché Environnement, for various reasons, but one rider was enough as Kristoff stroke on two occasions and was a runner up to Peter Sagan in the points classification overall.

With 11 international wins, Kristoff is the second best scorer of the 2014 season so far, to a draw with Marcel Kittel while André Greipel is ahead with 13. The Milan-San Remo winner counts on the Arctic Race of Norway to increase his score and look towards the end of his best season up to date. He missed the inaugural edition as he was sidelined after being diagnosed with a bacterial pneumonia in the right lung on the eve of stage 1 in Bodø one year ago. So he'll make his debut at the ARN with his new fame as a Tour de France multiple stage winner. During the Tour de France, Kristoff's Katusha team announced the recruitment of his training partner from Stavanger Sven Erik Bystrøm. The 22-year old who finished 10th at the U23 Tour of Flanders, at the Tour of Norway and at the Tour des Fjords this year is one of the most interesting prospects of Norwegian cycling. He comes from the Øster Hus-Ridley team managed by brothers Morten and Roy Hegreberg like the recently crowned Norwegian national champion Tormod Hausken Jacobsen, 20, who prepared for the ARN at the Kreizh Breizh Elites in France where his team-mate August Jensen, 22, won the King of the Mountain competition on August 4.

One more Norwegian signed his first pro contract in July as Sondre Holst Enger, also aged 20, bronze medalist at the U23 world championship last year, decided to join IAM Cycling under the advice of former Tour de France rider Atle Kvålsvoll. Enger is a sprinter in the making with abilities in short uphill finishes that make him a potential rival for Peter Sagan in a near future. He hails from Grimstad on the south coast of Norway like Hushovd who also mentors him. Kvålsvoll and Hushovd's development team Sparenbanken Sør has even more in store with time trial national championship runner up Bjørn Tore Hoem, Tour of Norway King of the Mountain Amund Grøndahl Jansen as well as 21 year old Sindre Skjølstad Lunke who finished fifth in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta-Mont Blanc in July. The French-Italian mountainous race has also outlined the exceptional climbing skills of 20 year old Odd Christian Eiking who came second overall behind Colombia's Bernardo Suaza. He's nurtured in Norway's most successful talent factory: Team Joker. Kristoff, Boasson Hagen, Nordhaug, Breen and Stake Laengen all come from the team directed by Belgium's Gino van Oudenhove who is also busy building the career of Oskar Svendsen, the 2012 junior world champion for individual time trial who finished fifth overall in the 2013 Tour de l'Avenir.

Currently ranked fifth and eighth in the Nation Cups, for U23 and junior respectively, Norway has a generation of very promising young cyclists. Time trial specialist and sprinter Erlend Blikra, 17, from Stavanger, is already listed as one of the world's best juniors since he won the Nation Cup's Trophée du Centre-Morbihan in France in May. As it is ARN major sponsor Statoil's motto to develop and encourage local talents, five continental Norwegian teams mostly composed of young riders will challenge nine Tour de France teams (BMC, Katusha, Belkin, Cannondale, Giant-Shimano, Cofidis, NetApp-Endura, IAM Cycling and Bretagne-Séché Environnement) on the roads of northern Norway.

The news in pictures

photo07/08/2014 

© A.S.O

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Jersey wearers after the stage 4

Classifications after the stage 4

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