Eiking comes of age, Barguil takes the lead

August 17 th 2019 - 18:20

Norway’s Odd Christian Eiking of Wanty-Groupe Gobert claimed his first win of the 2019 season on home soil as he clinched the queen stage of the Arctic Race of Norway atop the unprecedented and gruelling Storheia Summit. Second on the line, French national champion Warren Barguil from Arkéa-Samsic took the overall lead with a slim advantage of three seconds over Kazakhstan national champion Alexey Lutsenko. A tight finish is expected in the conclusive stage in Narvik!

Bryan Coquard in the breakaway of the day

117 riders started stage 3 of the 7th Arctic Race of Norway in Sortland. Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg was in attendance. Storvatnet climb was located right after the flag off. It was suitable for early attacks. King of the Mountains Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) passed the Storeidet hill in first position at km 18, after which the breakaway of the day was formed by five riders: stage 2 winner Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept-B&B Hôtels), Kristian Sbaragli (Israel Cycling Academy), Danny van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma), Erlend Blikra (Team Coop) and Thimo Willems (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). Coquard won the first intermediate sprint at Myre, km 44.5 and the second one at Sortland, km 84. The leading quintet was able to carve out a maximum advantage of 3’20’’ with over 100km remaining. Corendon-Circus and Astana led the peloton to decrease the gap. Sbaragli won the KOM at Storvatnet, km 90, with an advantage of 1’55’’ over the peloton. After two hours of racing, the average speed was 44.3km/h.

Astana, Katusha-Alpecin and Delko Marseille chasing

Katusha-Alpecin and Delko Marseille seized the command of the peloton. Trainee Juri Hollmann and Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz were their designated riders for pacing. With Yuriy Natarov pulling as well, Astana continued to show that their ambitions to win the Arctic Race of Norway with Lutsenko were high. Stabilized earlier around 1’15’’, the deficit of the bunch was back up to two minutes when Coquard took the third intermediate sprint ahead of Van Poppel at Stokmarknes with 34.5km to go. Job done, the French sprinter sat up and awaited the peloton. 25km before the end, the deficit of the peloton was 1’25’’. Van Poppel was next to sit up at the 10km to go mark while the time gap was reduced to 45’’.

Storheia too steep for Mathieu van der Poel

Blikra attacked at the bottom of the finishing climb with 5.5km to go. 1km further, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) sustained a mechanical and got a bike change. Blikra was the last breakaway rider to be reeled in with 3km to go. Loïc Vliegen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was first to go clear off the bunch and Barguil the second to up the tempo in a steep part 2.5km before the finish. With 2km to go, race leader Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) had to let four riders go: Lutsenko and Hugo Houle (Astana), Eiking and Barguil. Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie) and Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) made the junction inside the steep last kilometre. 400 metres before the line, Eiking powered to victory as Barguil and Lutsenko couldn’t hold onto his wheel. They crossed the line in that order with Barguil taking the lead of the general classification over from Van der Poel, with an advantage of 3’’ over Lutsenko and 15’’ over Neilands.

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