|Harstad, Monday, 10th August 2015ARCTIC RACE OF NORWAY 2015
Looking for the new north star
With 18 victories from January to July, Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) is having a stuning season and will probably be the man to beat at the start of the 3rd edition of the Arctic Race of Norway (August, 13-16). After 5 stage wins in Norway in May, the Norwegian sprinter is able to impose his supremacy on his land. The 2014 green jersey won two stages last year, but has not yet said his last word.
From Harstad to Narvik, the Norwegian sprinter will have to compete against some riders in very good shape. Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) and Rein Taaramaë (Astana Pro Team), winner of the Vuelta a Burgos last week, will reach northern Norway with very good legs. After his 4th place in the Champs-Elysées at the end of the 2015 Tour de France, Boasson Hagen showed he is in top shape last week after three podiums and a stage win on the tour of Denmark, which ended with an impressive stage victory of Danish rider Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo), who will also be at the start of the Arctic Race.
The sprinter’s lane will probably be busy again on the polar circle, as some of the fastest men of the peloton as Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) and the italian duo from Team Lampre-Merida (Niccolò Bonifazio and Davide Cimolai) ; also made the trip to Norway.
The rolling second stage and the steep finish of stage 3 in Målsev will also give some opportunities to avoid bunch sprints this year. Some riders, like Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Ramon Sinkeldam (Team Giant-Alpecin), Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha)-who won the last Tour de Romandie- or Linus Gerdemann (Cult Energy Pro Cyling) already showed they are strong enough to win on this kind of finishes. But they must have a look at the new Norwegian generation full of new talents inspired by Hushovd: Sven Erik Byström (Team Katusha), Odd Christian Eiking (Team Joker), Andreas Vangstad (Team Sparebanken Sør), Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Team Joker) want to prove they have an important role to play too. Norwegian talent August Jansen (Team Coop-Øster Hus), will try to save his best climber jersey and win the new salmon jersey. Against young Norwegians, some riders will also try to take revenge. Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18), 5th at GC last year, and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), who was in the top 10 in 2014, would probably have high expectations this year.
22 Teams : main contenders
MTN-Qhubeka : Boasson Hagen (Nor), Bos (Ned), Ciolek (Ger), Meintjes (Rsa)
Bora-Argon 18 : Bennett (Irl), Voss (Ger)
Team Giant-Alpecin : Sinkeldam (Ned), Hupond (Fra)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise : Wallays Jens (Bel)
Cult Energy Pro Cycling : Gerdemann (Ger), Wegmann (Ger), Downing (Gbr)
BMC Racing Team : Dillier (Sui), Hermans (Bel)
Team Novo Nordisk : Peron (Ita)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team : Förster (Ger)
Bretagne-Séché Environnement : Hivert (Fra), Hutarovich (Blr)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits : Ahlstrand (Swe), Petit (Fra)
Team Europcar : Coquard (Fra)
Lampre-Merida : Cimolai (Ita), Bonifazio (Ita), Serpa (Col)
Team Coop-Øster Hus : Galta (Nor); Jensen (Nor)
Team FixIT.no : Eidsheim (Nor)
Team Frøy-Bianchi : Andersen (Nor)
Team Joker : Laengen (Nor), Hoem (Nor), Eiking (Nor)
Team Ringeriks-Kraft : Fløtten (Nor)
Team Sparebanken Sør : Vangstad (Nor)
Astana Pro Team : Taaramäe (Est), Kangert (Est)
Team Katusha : Kristoff (Nor), Byström (Nor), Zakarin (Rus), Haller (Aut)
Tinkoff-Saxo : Mørkøv (Den), Zaugg (Sui)
IAM Cycling : Frank (Sui), Elmiger (Sui), Clement (Ned), Enger (Nor)
| Roadbook, maps and free of rights pictures available here