The race heads to Finland for the first time
November 12 th 2019 - 12:15
- The 8th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway is scheduled for 6–9 August.
- The northernmost race in the world is set to make its first foray into foreign lands, with a stage finish in Kilpisjärvi (Finland) on the second day of racing.
- The route sets the stage for sprinters to shine in the first two stages. The general classification will be settled over the weekend with a summit finish in Målselv on Saturday and in Harstad on Sunday.
Year after year, the Arctic Race of Norway stands out for nail-biting scenarios in which the race can remain undecided until the very end. Last year, the identity of the overall winner remained a mystery even as the first riders were rolling across the finish line. In the end, it was Kazakh rider Alexey Lutsenko (Team Astana) who took the spoils in the seventh edition of the Arctic Race, beating French champion Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa–Samsic) by a single second. Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon–Circus), a punchy sprinter from the Netherlands who was gearing up for the World Championships in Yorkshire, claimed his third stage in two years. Should he decide to take up the Norwegian challenge again, the Dutchman will again feel in his element on a route drawn almost entirely within Troms.
Although this will be the first time in eight editions that the Arctic Race of Norway starts in Tromsø, the most famous city in northern Norway, the town has already hosted the finish of the race twice, in 2014 and 2017. The opening stage, held on Thursday 6 August, will take the peloton on a southward loop before turning back and finishing in Tromsø. Before entering the final circuit, the peloton will roll past the Arctic Cathedral (Ishavskatedralen) prior to crossing Tromsø Bridge, which links the island to the mainland. The riders will then tackle two laps of the 8.5 km circuit. A classified climb (1.2 km at 8%) will force a selection with 2.5 km to go before a new rider succeeds Alexander Kristoff and Dylan Teuns as the winner of the stage to Tromsø.
It will be Nordkjosbotn's turn to make its debut in the Arctic Race on the second day of racing. In another first, the course will make its first foray into foreign lands, with the last 12 kilometres taking place in Finland. Halfway through the stage, the peloton will ride along the Storfjord and enter a valley where the road tilts towards the sky until it reaches an altitude of 500 m in Kilpisjärvi. The fast men of the peloton should be able to overcome the four classified climbs on the 172 km course to vie for the stage win.
Stage 3 will evoke a sense of déjà-vu… The 184.5 km course between Finnsnes and Målselv will be a carbon copy of the stage held on 15 August 2015 with just one exception: the first loop on Senja Island will be ridden in the opposite direction compared to three years ago, when Belgian Ben Hermans seized the win. The queen stage of the 2020 edition will feature five classified climbs, including the summit finish at the Målselv ski resort (3.7 km at 7.8%). Expect the battle for the top places of the general classification to rage on the slopes leading to the Alpine village.
While fans often think of the closing stage of the Tour de France as an opportunity for the riders to kick back and relax, nothing could be further from the truth in the Arctic Race. Stage 4, a 161 km romp between Gratangen and Harstad, is a puncher's paradise. It will be the race's first visit to Gratangen. The first part of the closing stage will take the peloton along the fjords and pit the riders against three classified climbs before entering the final 8.5 km circuit in Harstad, where local lad Thor Hushovd was crowned the winner of the inaugural edition. Another Norwegian, Alexander Kristoff, claimed the opening stage of the 2015 edition here. Contenders for the stage win in 2020 will have to survive two ascents of the Novkollen climb (1.4 km at 6%) and turn on the afterburners on the 700 m long home straight, which packs a nasty punch at a gradient of 8.5%.
Route of the 2020 Arctic Race of Norway:
- Thursday 6 August — Stage 1: Tromsø, 166km
- Friday 7 August — Stage 2: Nordkjosbotn – Storfjord / Kilpisjärvi, 172km
- Saturday 8 August — Stage 3: Finnsnes – Målselv, 184.5km
- Sunday 9 August — Stage 4: Gratangen – Harstad, 161km
The Arctic Race of Norway shines the spotlight on the stars of tomorrow
In 2020, the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race junior competition will again give 120 talented young riders from Norway and another five countries the opportunity to race on the same course as the pro cyclists. Backed by Equinor, the major sponsor of the ARN, as well as the Norwegian Cycling Federation, it has grown to become one of the major fixtures on the junior calendar. Kristoffer Halvorsen, the winner of the first edition of the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race, held in Harstad in 2013, became U23 world champion in 2016 and went on to join Ineos two years later.
Thor Hushovd, world champion and event ambassador: "The eighth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway will again be a spectacular race that goes down to the wire. I am delighted to go back to Harstad, where I won the general classification in the inaugural edition. The 2020 edition also has new things in store, including a stage finish in Kilpisjärvi, Finland. Both this stage and the previous one in Tromsø are tailored to sprinters, but punchy climbers will take centre stage from then on. If one thing is certain, it is that our landscapes will again leave riders and TV viewers filled with awe."