Nearly 200 professional cyclists from some of the world’s top teams hit the roads of southeastern Norway on Wednesday, as the annual Tour of Norway got underway in the small town of Årnes, just northeast of Oslo. Norwegian cycling star Alexander Kristoff led the pack for his Russian Team Katusha, but he wasn’t favoured to win.
“Winning the overall event isn’t one of my goals at all,” Kristoff told newspaper Dagsavisen. The four-day race starts over the relatively flat countryside of Østfold but then heads up to the mountains, and Kristoff pointed out that he’s “not good enough” on steep uphill climbs.
He was hoping for some stage victories, though, as were fellow Norwegians (but rivals) Edvald Boasson, who’s cycling for MTN-Qhubeka, and Lars Petter Nordhaug for Team Sky. Kristoff had a great start to the season before taking a pause the past few weeks, while cyclists like Boasson Hagen are fighting back after a downturn.
Wednesday’s stage runs 182.6 kilometers from Årnes to the southern city of Sarpsborg. On Thursday, the cyclists will start in Drammen and head southwest along the coast to Langesund before starting the climb on Friday from Skien up to Rjukan. Then the race will run over the mountains to Geilo before heading back down from Flå to Hønefoss on Sunday.