Arctic Race of Norway: Ben Hermans makes it two
August 7 th 2021 - 18:41 [GMT + 2]
Like in 2015, Ben Hermans won the queen stage to Målselv and moved into the lead, ahead of Odd Christian Eiking and Victor Lafay. With a slim advantage, the Belgian from Israel-Start Up-Nation hopes for a better outcome than six years ago.
Five riders in the lead
107 riders took the start of stage 3 in Finnsnes for what was considered the queen stage with the much anticipated finish in the “Alpine village” of Målselv and the Prime Minister Erna Solberg in attendance. After a very active start and several skirmishes, a group of five riders went clear off the peloton: stage 2 winner Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe), King of the Mountains Fredrik Dversnes (Team Coop), Jens Reynders (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Xabier Azparren (Euskaltel) and Julien Duval (AG2R-Citroën). Duval passed the first intermediate sprint at Gibostad (km 22) in first position. Dversnes extended his lead in the KOM competition as he crested all four category 2 climbs ahead of his breakaway companions. The leading quintet approached the last 50km with its maximum advantage of 3’.
Seb Berwick keeps attackers on a leash
It was clear for everyone that race leader Alexander Kristoff wasn’t going to defend his midnight sun jersey. However, his Norwegian national team combined forces with Intermarché-Wanty Gobert to bring the breakaway back. At the 20km to go mark, Arkea-Samsic and Uno-X came in help. Laas was the first breakaway rider to surrender with 11km to go as the deficit of the peloton was down to 1’05’’. Duval was next to let Dversnes, Reynders and Azparren go. Dversnes and Azparren were the last escapees to be reeled in, precisely at the bottom of the 4-km long uphill finish. Antonio Soto (Euskaltel) launched the first attack from the bunch but Seb Berwick (Israel-Start Up-Nation) brought the peloton back to him with 2km to go.
Hermans the strongest of the leading trio
Local star in the making Andreas Leknessund (Norwegian national team) sped up before Eiking made his move 1.3km before the finishing line. Lafay reacted. Hermans came across. Best young rider Samuele Battistella (Astana) was close to joining them but had to settle for fourth as the leading trio of the 8th Arctic Race of Norway emerged. Hermans was the strongest in a tight finish with Eiking who has one more chance to take the top prize on the spectacular conclusive circuit in Harstad on Sunday. Meanwhile Hermans moved into the midnight sun jersey, Lafay took the white jersey over from Battistella.