Williams conquers the Arctic
August 20 th 2023 - 17:58 [GMT + 2]
Israel-Premier Tech’s Stephen Williams won the 2023 Arctic Race of Norway by only one second over Astana Qazaqstan’s Christian Scaroni, emulating the minimal gap that allowed Alexey Lutsenko to claim the 2019 title with Warren Barguil as the runner-up. Team dsm-firmenich’s Kevin Vermaerke stood third on the final podium, taking advantage of the bonus seconds he scored at the beginning of this beautiful final stage that finished in the breath-taking North Cape, one of the northernmost spots in Europe. Arkea-Samsic’s Clement Champoussin was the fastest in the uphill sprint that settled the day, defeating Norwegian National Team’s Odd Christian Eiking and Astana Qazaqstan’s Michele Gazzoli.
106 riders took the start in the fourth and final stage of the 2023 Arctic Race of Norway, held between Kvalsund and the North Cape over 171,4 kilometres, at 13:40. There was some fast racing to begin, as none of the attackers was able to go clear ahead of the Skaidi (IS, km 21,1) intermediate sprint on which Noah Hobbs (Groupama-FDJ Continental) took three bonus seconds ahead of Kevin Vermaerke (Team dsm-firmenich) and Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech), who in turn collected two and one. A few minutes later, Human Powered Health’s Sebastian Schonberger was first atop Skaidi Summit (KOM, km 23,4).
A big breakaway day
A 19-strong group tried to escape from the peloton after 31 kilometres, with Dylan Teuns (Israel-Premier Tech), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Igor Arrieta (Equipo Kern Pharma) or Andre Drege (Coop-Repsol) amongst many others. They were not given much leeway, though, and their attempt got shut down after an intense chase. 68 kilometres into the race, a group of 15 managed to really establish itself at the head of the race. Jonas Hvideberg (Team dsm-firmenich), Hugo Toumire (Cofidis), Ludvik Holstad, Iver Knotten (Norwegian National Team), August Jensen, Kristian Aasvold (Human Powered Health), Alessandro Verre (Arkea-Samsic), Walter Calzoni (Q36.5), Frederik Dversnes (Uno-X), Kevin Colleoni (Jayco-AlUla), Pablo Carrascosa (Equipo Kern Pharma), Lennert Teugels (Bingoal WB), Rodrigo Alvarez (Burgos BH), Tobias Nakken (Trinity Racing) and the aforementioned Hobbs were the ones to put some daylight between themselves and the peloton led by Israel-Premier Tech and Astana Qazaqstan, opening a gap that peaked at 2’45” with 70 kilometres left to race.
Hobbs claims all the intermediate sprints
Midnight Sun jersey wearer during stage 3 Noah Hobbs led the way through Hjelness (IS, km 109,1) as Nakken got dropped from the break. The Groupama-FDJ Continental rider was also first across Storbukt (IS, km 139,9), at which point the gap had dropped down to 1’45”. The riders thus entered the final thirty kilometres of the race, on which three classified climbs including the summit finish at the Nordkapp (the iconic North Cape) were to decide this 10th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway.
Calzoni nearly makes it
As soon as the peloton hit the first slopes of the climb to Skipsfjord Summit (KOM, km 150,2), Cofidis and Arkea-Samsic took the helm of the peloton, reducing it to 50 riders as the break was whittled down to just six members: Hvideberg, Calzoni, Knotten, Jensen, Dversnes and Teugels. The Human Powered Health rider was first across the summit, where the peloton trialled behind the front of the race by 1’20”. The race heated up during the climb to Vestfjlordfjellet Summit (KOM, km 165), with Calzoni cresting it first as he was the last of the men of the breakaway not to be reeled in by the main group. The Italian rider kept his solo effort and managed to reach the last kilometre with a slight gap over the favourites, who were attacking left and right behind. There was no happy ending for Calzoni, though, as he was caught in the final ramp with 200 meters to go. The Israel-Premier Tech team launched the sprint, yet Arkea-Samsic’s Clement Champoussin was quicker than the other contenders and managed to claim his first victory of the season. The Israeli team still had a reason to smile as their Stephen Williams kept the Midnight Sun jersey and was crowned as overall winner of the event.