Beginning Thursday morning, while we enjoyed the hot summer sun or sat comfortably in our air-conditioned homes, 119 of the world’s elite cyclists peddled hard through the cold, rainy conditions that have become the backdrop for the first edition of the Arctic Race of Norway.
As the popularity of cycling has grown, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the company that organizes the Tour de France and other popular cycling races, saw the need for an arctic tour. So ASO announced in March that, driven by Norwegian cyclists’ success, Norway would play host to such an event.
Running from Thursday through Sunday, the first edition of the Arctic Race of Norway is composed of four stages and will cover a total distance of 705 kilometers.
The first stage of the race came to a close after Kenny Van Hummel crossed the line in Bodo ahead of his teammate and the race favorite to win, native Thor Hushovd. He finished the 192.5 km ride in just under four hours and 24 minutes to earn the blue-orange leaders shirt that he sported at the beginning of the race today. This win was monumental for Van Hummel, as it was his first in fifteen months, and gave his team a much needed boost of confidence.
But Hushovd would not be silenced so easily. Today, riders finished stage two in the town of Svolvaer where he reclaimed his title as the one to beat. Completing the 156.5 km ride in three hours and 38 minutes, Hushovd took the win, and the overall lead, just three seconds ahead of Van Hummel.
Stage three will take place Saturday as riders attempt to conquer the longest part of the challenge, a 201.5 km ride from Svolaer to Stokmaknes. But Sunday is when the victor will be crowned after the final 155 km stretch to Harsted.
Though it may be the first edition, the Arctic Race has already gained extreme popularity. People have come out in scores to cheer on their favorite riders, and enjoying the excitement and comradery that accompanies the sport of cycling. Van Hummel explained, “I was a bit surprised to see so many spectators on the road despite the cold.”