Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had a strong start to Arctic Race of Norway as Bernhard Eisel took matters into his own hands on the opening stage. Eisel attacked and scored enough KOM points to end the day on the podium as the leader of the mountains classification.
As expected, several riders wanted to show off their team colors on the first stage of the race. However, despite countless attacks it all got back together again after 35 km. Eisel then decided to give it go. The strong Austrian attacked and went solo. For nearly 20 km, Eisel was alone at the front before a few riders bridged across.
The front group worked well together and quickly established a gap of over five minutes on the peloton. On the first categorized climb of the day, Eisel proved to be the strongest as he won the KOM sprint ahead of Daniel Diaz (Delko Marseille Provence KTM). 25 km later, Eisel repeated the performance as he outsprinted Diaz once again to take maximum points on the top of the climb.
Towards the end of the stage, the gap started to come down as the peloton increased the pace. The breakaway started to split up and with just over 10 km to go, Eisel had been caught by the pack. Multiple riders tried to break away on the final kilometers but no one succeed. Ultimately, Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) took the win in the uphill sprint, which also placed him in the leader’s jersey.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s new stagiaire, Amanuel Gebreigzabhier, had an impressive first race for the team as he crossed the finishing line in 20th place after the tough stage. In addition to leading the KOM classification, Eisel was also awarded the most aggressive rider of the stage.
“I was already part of the first breakaway before going on my own. Once I got out there, I decided to go for the KOM jersey and I gave it my all. I think this is actually the first KOM jersey I’ve ever had in my whole career. There was a small chance that we might be able to make it to the finish but the teams behind were strong and the final lap was too hard. Tomorrow, I’ll see if I can get into the break and get a few more KOM points but I really spent a lot of energy today. However, I’m super happy I got this jersey. I really enjoyed it”.