• The sixth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway is scheduled for 16–19 August.
• The northernmost race in the world will visit East Finnmark, the only part of northern Norway it had yet to explore.
• Just like last year, the course of the Arctic Race of Norway is tailored to punchers. The second stage, which boasts an elevation gain of 2,700 m, will be tougher than any other one in the history of this stage race.
The Arctic Race of Norway is a thrilling competition that provides a launch pad for young stars year after year. In 2016, Belgian Dylan Teuns capped a spectacular August by winning two of the four stages of the Arctic Race as well as the general classification. This year's race is likely to go down to the wire, with punchers again taking centre stage.
For only the second time in its six-year history, the Arctic Race of Norway will stay entirely within a single county. Finnmark, located in the far north of Norway, is home to the indigenous Sami people, who are known for their traditional culture and, especially, reindeer herding. The four-stage route of the sixth edition crosses the county from east to west. As a result, the peloton will get to explore the roads of East Finnmark, a part of the county yet to be explored by the race, which has been pushing the limits of cycling since its inception. The race will start with a 190.5 km stage from Vadsø, the administrative centre of Finnmark, to Kirkenes, the last town before the Russian border. Mountain points counting towards the salmon jersey will be on offer on four different climbs. Riders should watch out for a demanding stage finish, with an 8% gradient in the last 500 m.
Will the riders have enough time to feast their eyes on the jaw-dropping landscapes of stage 2? The peloton will roll out of Tana for a 195 km romp to Kjøllefjord —the queen stage of this edition. Stage 2 is likely to be the toughest one in the history of the race, with a total elevation gain of 2,700 m. The final climb comes with just 4 km to go, right before a hurtling descent to the finish.
Honningsvåg, the last town before the North Cape, will host the start of stage 3. The peloton will travel 201 km to the northernmost city in the world, Hammerfest, famous for being home to the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society. The first climb on the course lies just 2 m above sea level. As in 2014, the peloton will ride through a tunnel below sea level in a nod to the salmon-coloured mountains jersey. This stage features yet another explosive finish, with a 1.7 km climb averaging 5%.
The sixth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway will come to a close with a 145 km stage from Kvalsund to Alta. The rollercoaster-like finale has the potential to turn the general classification on its head, leaving the race undecided until the very end. Norwegian fans, known for their enthusiasm, will certainly enjoy the show.
Route of the 2018 Arctic Race of Norway:
- Thursday August 16th, stage 1 : Vadsø – Kirkenes, 190,5 km
- Friday August 17th, stage 2 : Tana – Kjøllefjord, 195 km
- Saturday August 18th , stage 3 : Honningsvåg – Hammerfest, 201 km
- Sunday August 19th, stage 4 : Kvalsund - Alta, 145 km
Meet the heroes of tomorrow
Just a few hours before the pro riders reach Alta, 16- and 17-year-old talents from all over Norway and five European countries will get their opportunity to shine in the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race, a junior race organised by Statoil, a major sponsor of the Arctic Race of Norway, and the Norwegian Cycling Federation. Year after year, it consolidates its reputation as the event that sees the rise of the future stars of men and women's cycling in a country where cycling fever is spreading at an unprecedented rate.
A full-on week of cycling in Norway
The Arctic Race of Norway will take place in the third week of August (16–19), a week later than usual. The northernmost race in the world has been pushed back to avoid a scheduling conflict with the European Championships. Arctic Race broadcaster TV2 Norge will also show the Ladies Tour of Norway, which is part of the UCI Women's WorldTour. A whole week of cycling for the Scandinavian country.
Knut-Eirik Dybdal, director of Arctic Race of Norway: « The Arctic Race of Norway has become a unique opportunity to visit or to revisit Northern Norway, with the positive effect of promoting Norway in general. This year's edition will truly give spectators and TV viewers all around the world a taste of the Arctic.»
Thor Hushovd, World Champion and ambassador of the event: «This 6th edition of the Actic Race will be spectacular and indecisive until the last day in Alta. It will dedicate a complete runner, able to sprint in hill while perfectly negotiating the average mountain as on the stage of Kjøllefjord. I can't wait to see the runners on these unprecedented routes in Eastern Finnmark.»