The cycling world’s Arctic Race of Norway began rolling from Norway’s northern town of Vadsø on Thursday, but without Norwegian star Edvald Boasson Hagen and his teammate Mark Cavendish. Their Team Dimension Data was fronting others, though, for the long-weekend race around Finnmark, and more big names like Christophe Laporte and Warren Barguil were in place.
Norway’s large northern county that borders on Russia and Finland was hosting the entire race this year. Organizers tried to route it through parts of Russia but didn’t manage. They’re not giving up hopes of placing one of the racing stages in Russia in the future.
Finnmark’s vast open spaces and often stunning scenery will thus form the background for this year’s race that ended in Kirkenes on its opening day. It was won by Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands, who cycled its 190.5 kilometers in three hours, 50 minutes and 19 seconds.
The second stage of the race was set to begin in Tana on Friday and run north, much of it uphill, to Kjøllefjord. From there the racers were to take a ferry over to Honningsvåg just below the North Cape and ride south to Hammerfest. The race ends in Alta on August 19.
For more on Thursday’s race into Kirkenes, click here (external link to the Barents Observer’s coverage).