Barguil and Kristoff vs next generation

July 29 th 2021 - 16:30

Key points:

  • Warren Barguil is eager for revenge after a near miss two years ago and recent Tour de France withdrawal.
  • 11 Tour de France teams out of 19 on the start line.
  • Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen to pass the baton to the new generation of Norwegian talents.

A dedicated fisherman himself, Warren Barguil loves the atmosphere of the Arctic Race of Norway. He returned in 2019 to avenge himself for the misfortune of his crash the year before. He took the lead on top of Storheia but missed out on the overall victory by one second due to a split at the eleventh hour on the final stage in Narvik. In June this year, he questioned about the course of the northernmost bike race with the idea of finally being crowned in a competition that is close to his heart.

The queen stage to Målselv suits him but the former French champion and King of of the Mountains in the 2017 Tour de France won’t be the only favourite of the eighth edition of the ARN. Ben Hermans, the only stage winner in the “Alpine Village” (in 2015) up to date, will lead Israel Start-Up Nation with the aim of an overall success this time around. No less than 11 teams will line up in Tromsø after having taken part in the Tour de France: Astana-Premier Tech with former u23 world champion Samuele Battistella, AG2R Citroën Team with classics star Oliver Naesen, Bora-Hansgrohe with road captain Juraj Sagan, Cofidis with Giro d’Italia stage winner Victor Lafay, Qhubeka NextHash with brave heart Nic Dlamini, TotalEnergies with Spanish climber Cristian Rodriguez and Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert matériaux with Norway’s Odd Christian Eiking, the Storheia stage winner two years ago, Uno-X pro cycling teal with Markus Hoelgaard who claimed the last stage in Narvik the following day.  

Shall sprinters get an opportunity or more, Alexander Kristoff, racing under the colours of the Norwegian national team, will face a fierce competition in the presence of Christophe Laporte (Cofidis),  Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Dan McLay (Team Arkea-Samsic), Rudy Barbier (Israel Start-Up Nation), Clément Venturini (AG2R Citroën Team), Edouard Michael Grosu (Delko), Manuel Penalver (Burgos-BH) and Juanjo Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Besides Kristoff, Edvald Boasson Hagen is the other Norwegian hero in contention. He’s yet to impose himself at the Arctic Race of Norway. In his only participation so far, he came second to Kristoff in Harstad in 2015. Both will assess the level of their succession as the country has plenty of young riders likely to take over. Andreas Leknessund, 22, will make his debut along with Kristoff but he knows the event for having had a first taste in 2017 with the Heroes of Tomorrow’s organised by Equinor… in Tromsø, his hometown! Søren Wærenskjold, 21, second in the Norwegian championship for ITT, has a lot of power in store to combine forces with Hoelgaard and Torstein Træen who finished fifth in the Tour d’Alsace in France last week. Erik Lunder, 22, recently won the Dookola Mazowsza overall in Poland for Team Coop while his team-mate Tord Gudmestad, 20, took two stages after he became the u23 Norwegian champion for road racing.  

Since 2013, the Arctic Race of Norway is a springboard for future champions.

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