Arctic Race of Norway: Hoelgaard back to back… two years apart
August 5 th 2021 - 18:56 [GMT + 2]
Markus Hoelgaard, the last man to have won a stage at the Arctic Race of Norway before the outbreak, is also the first to do so as the race returned in the cycling news. The Norwegian from Uno-X counter-attacked the climbers at the very end to solo to victory in the streets of Tromsø while top sprinters Alexander Kristroff and Bryan Coquard rounded out the podium of stage 1.
Four riders in the lead
111 riders took the start of stage 1 in the 8th Arctic Race of Norway in Tromsø. Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana- Premier Tech), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-Citroën) and Alex Colman (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) were the first riders to make a move. As the peloton let them go, they enjoyed an advantage of 4’10’’ after 15km of racing. Tor Andre Aase Vabø (Team Coop) caught up them after a solo chase but the peloton led by B&B Hotels-KTM maintained the gap below two minutes at half way into the race. Brussenskiy went by himself to grab KOM points at Katfjordeidet summit with 52km to go while attacks started to take place at the head of the pack. 30km before the end, the bunch was just 1’ adrift.
Barguil and Eiking show their ambitions
Gougeard dropped his breakaway companions and forged on despite a strong chase and lots of offensives at the head of the peloton. Bora-Hansgrohe, Intermarché-Wanty Gobert and Astana were the most active teams. They put an end to Gougeard’s odyssey with 11.8km remaining. In the second of three passages atop Holtevegen summit, Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic) tested his legs, followed by Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) but it was Kristian Aasvold (Team Coop) who managed to go clear, firstly joined by Samuele Battistella (Astana) who’d still have some energy in the final sprint to become the best young rider. Barguil who said on the eve of the race that GC could be shaped on stage 1 went for it again in the last ascent to Holtevegen. Pre-race favourite Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) reacted, so did Giro d’Italia stage winner Victor Lafay (Cofidis).
Hoelgaard like in 2019
Hoelgaard counter-attacked after the three climbers gave an indication on who to await on the queen stage to Målselv on Saturday. Homeboy Andreas Leknessund, racing for the Norwegian national team, was close to bridge the gap with 2km to go but the final rush of the Uno-X rider prevented anybody from catching up with him, the same way he rode to victory two years ago on the conclusive stage in Narvik. It was a 1-2 for Norwegians as Kristoff, also racing for the Norwegian national team on this occasion, crossed the line two seconds later, before B&B Hotels-KTM’s Coquard. After the great show of the opening stage, the Arctic Race of Norway will head to a foreign country for the first time ever as stage 2 will finish in Kilpisjärvi, Finland.