John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) won the final stage of the Arctic Race of Norway, sprinting to the victory ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ). Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) won the race overall.
It was a long stage to end off the 4th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway as riders took on 193km from the Arctic Circle to Bodo. A fast and frantic start saw numerous attacks and counter attacks which our African Team were part of. It took some time before 5 riders got a gap on the peloton but even then, the main pack brought the leaders back with 100km still to race.
Finally in the last half of the race 6 riders managed to go clear and they were able to put 1’35” into the Sky led peloton. The stage ended with 3 local laps in Bodo and as is most often the case with these city circuits, it suited the sprinters teams perfectly. Trek-Segafredo, Katusha and Giant-Alpecin took control during the local laps and ensured the break was reeled in with 3km to go.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were again trying to position Youcef Reguigui for the final and Tyler Farrar’s presence was felt at the front of the peloton with 1.5km to go. A couple of tight turns in the last few kilometers saw some gaps opening between wheels and anybody not in the first 10 places with 1km to go had zero chance of contesting for the win.
Degenkolb took a good sprint win in the end as his teams superior lead out made the difference today. Reguigui was caught a bit behind the sharp end of the sprint before it really opened up and he would roll across the line in 24th place. In the general classification, Johann van Zyl was our best placed rider at 2’47” behind Moscon. A good comeback from injury by our South African after 2 and a half months away from racing.
Johann van Zyl – Rider
Today was much harder than what it looked like on paper. The break took ages to go and it was a super fast start with a downhill after a couple of kilometers. I found myself in a nice break with a couple of riders but Katusha and Trek weren’t happy with the composition of the break so unfortunately we were brought back. Then BMC attacked on the 10km cat 1 climb which took everyone by surprise. We were in the 2nd group again so we had to ride pretty hard with Trek, Katusha and Giant to bring it back for Tyler and Youcef who were up for the sprint. The day went like that all stage, breaks going and then being caught again. It probably made for some exciting racing to watch as there was action all day long. I’m more or less satisfied with my first race back. I honestly expected to perform much better as I worked super hard to come back strong. I’m obviously lacking some racing speed and will take this to build up towards a stronger next performance.