photo credits @ Le Tour
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the opening stage of this year’s Arctic Race of Norway today, after battling it out with fellow countryman Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), during the final uphill finish in Harstad.
Meanwhile, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) rounded out the podium in third spot – after winning the secondary sprint to the finish.
Gerald Ciolek put in a valiant effort, ushering his teammate Boasson Hagen into position during the final climb. However, Kristoff was there to mark his moved, thanks to teammate Marco Haller.
From there, Boasson Hagen was the first rider to open up his sprint, but he was briefly blocked in by Haller.
But, soon the Norwegian rider had opened up a slight gap over Kristoff. However, the Katusha rider was quick to follow his move – ultimately proving that he had the impetus to counter Boasson Hagen’s move, and go on to seize the stage victory by a few bike lengths.
“It’s great to win again. I didn’t win the whole summer so I’m happy. It was about time,” Kristoff said just before stepping on to the podium.
“I’m happy to win in the Arctic and now we can relax a bit because we have a win. With a five-man team it’s always very difficult but my team did a really great job even if we are one guy less. I was in the perfect position in the last kilometre and I was the strongest in the last climb to the finish so I was happy to finish it off.”
Earlier Race Highlights
Several attacks got underway from the outset of today’s stage, with a seven-man breakaway containing Maxime Cam (Bretagne Seche-Environment), Vegard Stake Laengen (Team Joker), Max Emil Boholm Korner (Team Ringeriks Kraft), Haavard Blikra (Coop-Oster Hus), Jon Saeveras Breivold (Froy Oslo), Marius Hafsas (Fixit.no) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen), eventually coming to the front after 14 kilometers of racing.
Despite staying out front for most of today’s stage, with 25 kilometers remaining, the breakaway group had all but been reclaimed by the peloton.
With the chase at their heels, Vegard Stake Laengen, followed by Hafsas, made a last ditch effort to ride clear.
From there, the duo managed to open up a modest gap of just about a minute over the chase.
However, only Laengen proved to have the strength to go it alone, as he eventually distanced his breakaway companion with 8 kilometers remaining.
But, Laengen’s efforts would only last for another 2 kilometers, before he was back in the clutches of the chase.
As the race headed into the final climb, MTN-Qhubeka was now at the front, with Ciolek guiding Boasson Hagen into position.
But, despite a powerful acceleration toward the finish, Bassoon Hagen found himself out-matched by Kristoff during the waning moments of the race, who quickly went on to clinch the stage victory.
Stage 1 Results
NOR 1 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA) 4:58:36
NOR 2 BOASSON HAGEN, Edvald (MTN – QHUBEKA)
IRL 3 BENNETT, Sam (BORA-ARGON 18)
ITA 4 BONIFAZIO, Niccolo (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
BEL 5 VAN STAEYEN, Michael (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
DEN 6 GULDHAMMER, Rasmus (CULT ENERGY PRO CYCLING)
BEL 7 CAPIOT, Amaury (TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE)
SUI 8 ELMIGER, Martin (IAM CYCLING)
FRA 9 TURGIS, Anthony (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
NOR 10 ENGER, Sondre Holst (IAM CYCLING)
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