The opening stage of the Arctic Race of Norway saw Edvald Boasson Hagen sprint his way to a 2nd place behind countryman, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) finished in 3rd place.
In cool conditions, racing got underway with the riders facing 210km on today’s first stage. 7 riders would get away early on with the majority of the break made up by the continental Norwegian teams. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, Europcar and Katusha then took responsibility to control the pace of the peloton, Theo Bos was our rider doing a lot of the early work.
After the leaders reached a 7 minute lead, the peloton decided that was enough and so began the chase in earnest. With a tough final 20km that saw 3 short but sharp climbs, it was by no means a pure sprinters stage. The harder finale also suited the peloton as after 200km in the break, the escapees didn’t have much left to offer. Vegard Stake Laengen (Joker) was the last rider to be caught with 5km to go.
The well timed catch was made thanks to some stellar work by Louis Meintjes and Jayde Julius over the last hour and a half of racing. During the finale the rest of the team did a great job to look after Edvald before launching him into the tough uphill sprint. Gerald Ciolek was the rider to leadout our Norwegian champ as we went head-to-head with Katusha.
After Kristoff’s leadout man peeled off the front into Edvald’s path, Eddy had to stop his sprint momentarily which on the uphill gradient wasn’t ideal. Kristoff shot into the lead with less than 100m to go as Eddy tried to get his big gear turning over again but it was always going to be 2nd place for our fast man from here. A good start to what promises to be a fine weekend of racing for our African team.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
It was a pretty good stage for us today. The team were really good, supporting me all day and then bringing me into a good position at the end. In the sprint we might have gone a bit too early and Kristoff still had one more man. I kind of got blocked a bit behind Haller though which wasn’t really ideal on that type of finish. I was feeling good though, the team were perfect and so I am focused on the next stages.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
Today was a long day on the bike with an interesting circuit finale. Once the break of the day was gone we had Theo working in the front with some other riders. We controlled the situation until 16km to go with the rest of the team working for Edvald and Ciolek leading him out in the sprint. Both Edvald and I are happy with how the team worked today and it is a good result to start with.