It was a less than ideal finish for August Jensen (Israel Cycling Academy), who found himself forced to battle back to the field following an ill-timed bike mechanical inside the final 10 kilometres of the opening stage finish of the 2018 Arctic Race of Norway in Kirkenes on Thursday.
“We didn’t have a man in the 27-[man] breakaway or something, so we had to put the guys in front,” Jensen explained to Eurosport prior to the Stage 2 start in Tana. “I felt good, this is one of my big races for the season. The final yesterday fit me well, but a puncture 8km before the finish line on that course, technical, high speed — it was impossible to get back.
“People were dropping from the front as I was trying to get back,” he continued. “Shit happens, but it’s cycling.”
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With no Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) or Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) on the start this year, 26-year-old Jensen returns to Arctic Race a heavy Norwegian favourite after winning a stage last year and finishing second overall. But, he claims he is not feeling any added pressure to perform on home soil.
“Most of the pressure I have I put on myself,” admitted Jensen. “So a bit disappointed from yesterday. These things happen. Crashes, punctures are unfortunately a part of cycling.”
And following a second day of misfortunate events, which included Jensen being swept off his bike while in prime contention for the stage win, Jensen is still upbeat despite being a bit bruised and bloodied.
“It went from tailwind to crosswind,” explained Jensen after Stage 2. “The crosswind hit the front wheel basically lifting it up and smashing me down. I was in the group sprinting for the victory, so it’s very disappointing. Like I told you before the race, that’s cycling.”
Jensen’s Dutch lead-out Dennis van Winden took second on the stage in a photo finish to American Colin Joyce of Rally Cycling.
“I made a mistake, I went a little bit early,” the longtime WorldTour rider for LottoNL-Jumbo and Rabobank-turned-Belkin rider told Eurosport. “Normally I am a lead-out guy and I must create an opportunity and now I created an opportunity for myself, but it was a little bit early.”
“My legs were really, really good,” he continued. “I went in the early break and it was hectic. When the guys got back to me from the first echelon, we directly played the card for August — it’s his home country and last year was second on [general classification] and he is obviously really strong. The wind caught his front wheel and took him out.
“It’s really sad. I’m disappointed for him, but happy for my own result.”
For full stage and race results, click here.
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