In one of the more interesting stage finishes in all of cycling, recently crowned European champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) won a bunch sprint in front of his native Norwegians on Stage 2 of the 2017 Arctic Race of Norway.
It was Kristoff’s third win in two weeks as he crossed the line ahead of Frenchman Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) and Italian Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) after three laps around the Bardufoss Air Station runway.
“It’s the first win I have in the jersey, so I will remember the day for sure,” the Kristoff told Eurosport. “BMC had control today. They had the leader’s jersey and I think they did a really good job to control it.
“In the end, they needed a little back up and we came to assist and some other sprinter teams,” the recent RideLondon winner continued.
“On the last lap, unfortunately I lost Sven [Erik Bystrøm], he was also supposed to be in the lead out,” Kristoff continued. “But Reto [Hollenstein] did a longer pull and was really strong then Michael [Morkov] in the end put me in the perfect position with perfect speed to start the sprint.”
A six-rider break entered the first of three laps of the 8.5-kilometre circuit with less than 25km to go in the 184.5km second stage from Sjøvegan.
Kristoff claims victory in Arctic Race stage two
Erwann Corbel (Fortuneo-Oscaro) took the first intermediate sprint over Javier Megias (Team Novo Nordisk) and Zhandos Bizhigitov (Astana Pro Team), followed by the remaining three-riders of the doomed break, which also included Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits), Elias Angel Spikseth (Team FixIT.no) and Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).
The race was all back together with 5km to go.
With the win, the 30-year-old Kristoff moves into third on general classification a second behind Pasqualon and two behind Stage 1 winner Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing).
“It’s nice to be one more day in the leaders jersey, always nice to race in the leader’s jersey,” Teuns told Eurosport after surrendering the points lead to Pasqualon, but while still holding on to the white jersey for best young rider.
“Tomorrow will be the queen stage,” said Teuns referring to Saturday’s hilltop finish on Stage 3. “So, it’s good I can start in front of the other good riders with a small advantage, but still we have to race for the GC tomorrow.”
The penultimate stage features three categorised climbs, including a Cat. 1climb at Finnvikdalen starting at 5.2km from the summit and featuring a 390-metre straight road to the line in Tromsø.
Currently 36-year-old Austrian veteran Bernie Eisel (Dimension Data) sits atop the mountain classification.