The final stage of the Arctic Race of Norway was a thrilling encounter that saw Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing) win the stage from Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Rein Taaramae (Astana). It was Taaramae though that won the tour overall.
The final stage was a tough and fast race from the gun with numerous attacks. 7 riders got away but only after all the local Norwegian teams that missed the move did their utmost to try bring them back inside the first 40km. Once things settled though the escapees were able to force out 3 minutes as BMC controlled the peloton. The stage would conclude with 4 laps of 10km local circuit, which included 2 tough climbs per lap, and this is where the stage would come alive again.
With the early break just about to be caught as we entered the circuit, race leader Ben Hermans (BMC) suffered a mechanical which halted proceedings somewhat. Once he returned though, Katusha massed at the front of the peloton to apply some pressure. This saw the race come back together at the front, albeit with just 25 odd riders left in the main group.
Louis Meintjes and Edvald Boasson Hagen were part of the selection as we were about to begin the final 2 local laps. It was at the start of the penultimate lap that a group of 7 riders rode off the front, in the move was Taaramae, Zakarin and Dillier and this would prove to be the deciding split of the race. With no teammates left in the main group, Hermans was forced to chase alone but the gap kept widening to the leaders.
A counter attack of 4 riders went clear with 1 and half laps to go, Louis made sure to follow this move. By the final lap, the leaders were down to just the 3 main protagonists but they already had a 40″ advantage over the Hermans group and would go on to decide the stage. Edvald jumped across to Louis group with 5km to go eventually finishing in 10th & 11th on the stage respectively. A crafty move in the end because it ensured Eddy would finish in 4th place overall with the front 3 riders on today’s stage also securing the top 3 spots on the GC.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
The pace was high on the final circuit and I was just hanging on as best I could even though I could feel the lactic acid. I tried to claw my way into the main move but it was just too tough. I finished with the 2nd group and that was the best I could do on this stage today.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
The final stage was another hard day with a difficult local circuit to end on. We wanted to do a good result with Edvald and Louis so we kept our options open until the last lap. The trio up front with Taaramae was very strong and kept the gap to the chasers which included both Louis and Edvald. 4th overall is not a bad result for Edvald if you consider how much climbing was done these last two days.