This Thursday, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux returns to Norway for the Arctic Race of Norway (2.Pro, 5-8/8). The riders will battle for four stage wins and the general classification in amazing landscapes. The parcours is again designed to create an exciting battle of seconds until the final. During the previous edition, Odd Christian Eiking was the best at the queen stage with finish on Storheia Summit. The steep climb is not part of the race this year, but there are enough other difficulties on the many islands to please the punchers.
The first 142.5 kilometer stage with start in Tromsø follows the coastline of island Kvaløya. The Holtevegen climb (1.2km at 8,1%) has to be covered three times during the final. With the top only 2 kilometer before the finish, it is unsure whether the sprinters or punchers will be victorious. A bunch sprint is expected at the end of the second stage in Kilpisjärvi, Finland. The queen stage of this four day race is also the longest. The climax of this third stage of 184.5 kilometer is at the finish in ski station Målselv (3.7km at 7,8%). But it will be exciting until the final of the last stage of 163 kilometer with finish in Harstad, because the course and the final contain many hills en the final kilometer has an upwards slope.
Next to his stage victory in 2019, Odd Christian Eiking finished twice in the top six of the general classification (2015 and 2016). The Norwegian rider took 7th place in the Clasica San Sebastian last Saturday and announced his ambitions for the stage race on his home soil. The Norwegian rider is surrounded with Belgian and Dutch teammates. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux can count on Danny van Poppel for bunch sprints. The Dutch sprinter finished already on each step of the podium during his two previous participations in 2016 en 2019. The Arctic Race of Norway is his first race since his 6th place on the Champs-Elysées at the Tour de France. The four other riders, Aimé De Gendt, Tom Devriendt, Baptiste Planckaert and Boy van Poppel participated at the Heistse Pijl before travelling to Norway. From this Thursday, Frederik Veuchelen will guide the six riders.
Arctic Race of Norway:
Stage 1 – (05/08): Tromsø – Tromsø (142,5km)
Stage 2 – (06/08): Nordkjosbotn – Storfjord-Kilpisjärvi (Finland) (178km)
Stage 3 – (07/08): Finnsnes (Senja) – Målselv (184,5km)
Stage 4 – (09/08): Gratangen – Harstad (163,5km)
Aimé De Gendt
Odd Christian Eiking
Boy van Poppel
Danny van Poppel