Next generation Arctic racers: An important experience

October 15 th 2019 - 15:00

© Haakon Maeland

The seventh edition of the Equinor’s Heroes of Tomorrow race went down at 15th August this year, the same day as the final stage of Arctic Race of Norway in Narvik. The purpose is to give young riders the feeling of competing in a professional race. 

This year’s winners were the British rider Anna Shackley and Norwegian rider Dennis Gråsvold.

– Both Shackley and Gråsvold are good ambassadors for our sport. After a chat with them I feel certain that they both are hardworking riders that see a future in cycling, says professional cyclist Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå.  

Promotes Norway as a cycling nation 

Both of Arctic Race of Norway’s ambassadors, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå and Thor Hushovd, were present at the Heroes of Tomorrow race in August. They both feel that the race is important for giving hopeful, young riders a taste of reality.

– This race gives junior riders the chance to compete at the same arena as their role models and I think it works as a motivation for them to work harder and achieve their goals. In my experience it seems that the race has gained international attention, with an increase in riders from around the world, says Hushovd.  

Hushovd feels certain that the Heroes of Tomorrow race is promoting Norway as a cycling nation.  

– Our focus on young athletes gives Norway an important status internationally. I spoke to one of the leaders of ASO, one of the organizers of Arctic Race of Norway and Tour de France, who told me that this race is an inspiration to them.  

Dahle Flesjå agrees.  

– My experience is that most people have some kind of relation to the Heroes of Tomorrow race by now. Being invited to participate in such a well organized event makes the young riders proud.  

Tough trail, impressive title  

Dahle Flesjå says that this year’s trail was a tough one. As it should be.  

– The best of the junior riders kept a high level throughout the race, even though the trail was hard and created long gaps between the riders. I think it should be hard, so we can single out the pros. We wish to stimulate those who work hardest and to help them get further in their careers.  

She underlines that this year’s winners really deserved the victory.  

– This was a great learning experience for them.  

Jan-Oddvar Sørnes, leader for the Heroes of Tomorrow race and president in Norges Cykleforbund, says that winning the race is a great honour for the juniors.  

– Our best junior riders prioritize this race above all else, especially because of the international participation. It’s a good way to gain experience.  

But does the results drown in the main event, Arctic Race’s final stage? Definitely not, says Sørnes.

– This is an arena where the results gets noticed. Winning the race comes with an impressive title and has great value for the riders further careers. Through Equinor’s media campaigns the riders also gain a lot of attention.  

Sørnes says that in his experience the riders feel like a part of Arctic Race.  

– They get to feel like elite riders for a weekend, with the same destination portals, speakers and timekeeping as in Arctic Race of Norway. They feel like they are part of a very professional event, says Sørnes.

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