INTERMARCHÉ
WANTY GOBERT

Arctic Race of Norway

Eiking: “This fires me up”


This Sunday, the apotheosis of the Arctic Race of Norway (2.Pro, 5-8/8) took place between Gratangen and Harstad. It was the ultimate chance for Odd Christian Eiking, 2nd in the provisional classification, to close the 4 second gap with Ben Hermans and conquer the Midnight Sun leaders jersey. Nine riders attacked during the first few kilometers. As it was a strong group, with Aimé De Gendt, the peloton stayed attentive. Nevertheless, the nine riders still had a 1’13 gap when crossing the finish line for the first time. During these final 25 kilometer, Aimé De Gendt hang on on the Novkollen Summit (2km at 4.3%). But on the last of three ascensions he had to let go Philipp Walsleben and Niki Terpstra. While the German rider defeated the Dutch rider, De Gendt was absorbed by the peloton in sight of the line. In that remaining peloton, the other riders from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux surrounded Odd Christian Eiking. With an impressive acceleration, the Norwegian rider sprinted to the back wheel of Alexandre Delettre, a third survivor from the early breakaway. This 4th place left Eiking out of the bonus seconds, but he managed to distance the rest from the peloton. In the end, the 2 second gap was not enough to conquer the final victory.

The race was so exciting and again, the result is not in our favor. I was good and the team did a fantastic job, so it’s a pity that we’re not rewarded with a victory. They put me in a perfect position to achieve an excellent result. I won the bunch sprint by a nice margin, so in retrospective I think that I should have been more confident. I could have asked my teammates to be more offensive and to close the gap with the breakaway. But with Aimé in the breakaway we also had a very nice opportunity to win the stage and achieve a big success for the team! The victory slipped through my fingers twice but it only fires me up more to fight in my next races! 

 It was an honor to work with this group this week. It’s a pity that we didn’t manage to take a victory, but we can be proud about our results in this nice stage race. Odd was very strong. After his tight defeat yesterday, he dropped everyone in the sprint today. We hoped for some time gaps between Odd and Ben Hermans, but the jury told us that only the 2 seconds separating Odd from the 5th rider were big enough to be taken into account. In retrospect, we should have taken the tactical choice to close the gap with the breakaway and make sure that Odd had access to the bonification seconds. But we can’t change it anymore now. Anyway, with this condition and this motivation, I’m convinced that Odd will show us more in the next couple of weeks! 

Frederik Veuchelen (Sports Director) Tweet

Photo: Arctic Race of Norway – Gautier Demouveaux

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