Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won Thursday’s tough opening stage of the Arctic Tour of Norway that finished in Kirkenes.
Sergei Chernetski (Astana) was second and Benjamin de Clercq (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise) was third.
For our team Mekseb Debesay finished 37 seconds down on the winner with the rest of our team all safely home together.
The day was notable for World Tour debuts for two of our stagiaires as British champion Connor Swift and Kent Main made their bow in our colours.
Connor Swift – Rider
Today was a pretty tough day. There was a lot of crosswind action and right from the start it was super fast. On one of the first hills a big group got away that had Jacques in it, group of around 30 guys. The Rally cycling and the Israeli team weren’t very happy with that so they were chasing all day basically.
Then with maybe 40km to go the main group came back so it was pretty tough racing behind, the peloton split up a lot, so it was full gas all day. Then a group of eight came away from that main group and again they were chasing. We hit the circuits and from 16km to go it was full gas and it was really choppy in the bunch so it was quite hard stay well positioned. I wasn’t positioned well enough because it was so strung out on the circuit, people were letting the wheels go and I wasn’t able to help or be there for the team, but Bernie and Mekseb were. Kent did a good job riding a bit before the circuit and then it was up to Mekseb to go well in the sprint and I think he got up there in the end.
On a personal note I wouldn’t say it was agood outing for Dimension Data (for me) but it was great just to be riding with the team, especially riding with Bernie in the bunch, he’s so good in terms of his positioning and so strong. Hopefully I’ll improve on the next few stages and do a lot better!