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Arctic Race of Norway: Kittel candidate to challenge Hushovd, Kristoff, Nordhaug...


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Marcel Kittel of Giant-Shimano and Norwegian sprinters are expected to contest the second Arctic Race of Norway from August 14 to 17 with an unprecedented stage finish at the North Cape even though a tougher course might favor a different type of rider, as the organizers unveiled on the eve of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Leeds.

While the Tour de France has never been as far north as now in Leeds for its Grand Départ after one hundred editions already contested, the Arctic Race of Norway will take the riders further north next month. Amaury Sport Organisation director of cycling Christian Prudhomme will make his way to the North Cape to flag off stage 1 in Hammerfest on August 14, just one year after Thor Hushovd won the inaugural ARN. “This expedition is a breath of fresh air for the world of cycling”, he noted.
“The impact of this wonderful event was enormous last year”, echoed ASO general manager Yann Le Moënner. “It shows how much cycling is a perfect sport to explore new horizons.”
Professional cycling teams have already embraced this new adventure. Nine of the twenty outfits who signed up for the second ARN are also part of the Tour de France: Belkin Pro Cycling Team, BMC Racing Team, Bretagne-Séché Environnement, Cannondale, Cofidis-Solutions crédits, IAM Cycling, Giant-Shimano, Katusha and NetApp-Endura. Some big names are already known: race ambassador Thor Hushovd who will normally compete internationally for the last time on home soil on this occasion as he has announced his retirement from racing after the world championship in September; Alexander Kristoff who is the new star of Norwegian cycling since he won Milan-San Remo in March; Simon Spilak and Yuriy Trofimov, his team-mates from Katusha who won a stage each at the Critérium du Dauphiné last month; Lars-Petter Nordhaug who was the King of the Mountains at the ARN last year and has the profile of a hot favourite this time around; Vegard Stake Laengen, who is another promising Norwegian racing for French squad Bretagne-Séché Environnement…
Vikings on home soil will face a fierce competition with Marcel Kittel. Giant-Shimano has listed the ARN on the race program of the four-time stage winner of the 2013 Tour de France. “It's an honor for us that such a great champion is keen to come to our race and discover the north of Norway”, said the director of the Arctic Race of Norway Knut-Eirik Dybdal who is full of praise for the emerging cycling talents in his country. The most promising of them all is Sondre Holst Enger, 20. He claimed the bronze medal at the U23 world championship in Florence last year. He'll make his debut at the ARN as a trainee with his new team IAM Cycling, guided by veteran rider (and Hushovd's close friend) Sébastien Hinault. Newly crowned Elite Norwegian champion Tormod Hausken Jacobsen from Øster Hus-Ridley will also attract a lot of attention prior to celebrating his 21st birthday on the final day of the race in Tromsø.
The Arctic Race of Norway is also involved in the future of Norwegian cycling through the organization of the “Arctic Morgendagens Helter Rittet” in cooperation with the Norwegian Cycling Federation. Just like last year, the “heroes of tomorrow” will be united by major partner Statoil for a race before the arrival of the conclusive stage. Every region of Norway is invited to send their best junior riders alongside internationals coming from Russia, the United Kingdom and more. Five Norwegian continental teams will line up at the ARN: Joker,, Øster Hus-Ridley, Ringeriks-Kraft and Sparenbanken-Sør. The others will be: Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Unitedhealthcare, Roubaix-Lille Métropole, Wallonie-Bruxelles and MTN-Qhubeka, the latter delivering the symbol of sub-Saharan cyclists – from Ethiopia, South Africa…  – competing above the Arctic circle. As much as the Scandinavians, they'll be eligible for the “Viking of the Day” price. The most courageous, persistent and dedicated rider will be designated by internet users via twitter from anywhere in the world. He'll be awarded the newly created “Viking Jersey” while fun riders will also get a chance to experience the far north with two opportunities to ride on the same roads as the professionals: “Conquer the North Cape” on a distance of 32km on August 14, “The Great Bike Festival”, 25km, on August 16.
Norwegian TV spectators will enjoy a daily coverage of 120 minutes as opposed to 90 minutes last year on TV2. In addition to Eurosport 2, the race will be broadcasted live in France (L'Équipe 21), Asia-Pacific (Eurosport Asia), Latin America (TDN), Czech Republic and Slovakia (DIGI Sport) while highlights will be visible on all continents.

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