Arctic Race of Norway: Downing spends the day out front


Netapp-Endura’s Russell Downing spent the day in the break out front before Ada Blythe leads out Thor Hushovd  to victory in Arctic Paradise

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Frustrated after missing out on the victory in the inaugural stage, Thor Hushovd got back into winning mood in the most beautiful environment he could dream of to promote the event he’s an ambassador for.


Photo: ASO/Pascal Perreve

Perfectly led out by his team-mate, Britain’s Adam Blythe who made no mistake in the tricky final corner in Svolvær, the Norwegian won the bunch sprint and took the lead ahead of stage 1 winner Kenny van Hummel with two days to in the Arctic Race of Norway.

Featuring the sublime Lofoten islands, stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway also gave the riders the pleasure to enjoy sunny conditions as well as the road described by some travel guides as the most beautiful in the world.

As the capital of the archipelago, Svolvær was the starting and finishing point of the race. The breathtaking landscapes inspired six riders to break away after 20 kilometres of racing: Russell Downing (NetApp-Endura), Sander Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Edwin Wilson (Joker-Merida), Michael Olsson (People 4 you), Max Emil Korner (Ringeriks-Kraft) and August Jensen (Øster Hus-Ridley).

The latter, hailing from Bodø, is the only participant of the event originating from northern Norway. One day after racing in front of his fans and family, he went on to win both King of the Mountains prizes of the day but that was not enough to dethrone Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) who leads the competition with the red jersey on his shoulders. Helven proved to being the fastest rider of the front group as he won all three intermediate sprints.


Russell Downing with his fish! © A.S.O./S.Boué

Nordhaug caught in a crash
With a maximum deficit of 2.40 at half way into the race, the peloton led by Vacansoleil-DCM’s team-mates of stage 1 winner Kenny van Hummel kept the situation under control. Several teams combined at the front to bridge the gap, Argos-Shimano, BMC and Team Plussbank being the most notable of them. All the way, the race was a thrill for the senses due to the beauty of the environment and the popular support.

Thor Hushovd gave an indication of his strength when he followed an acceleration by Europcar’s Vincent Jérôme who was later involved in a crash that affected Nordhaug with 13.5 kilometres to go.

Perfect lead out by Adam Blythe
At the front, Korner, Olsson and Downing refused to give up and insisted 13km before the finish. As soon as they got reined in at the 7km to go mark, Amund Grondal Jansen (Plussbank) tried his luck, so did Paul Martens (Belkin) three kilometers further.

But a bunch gallop was inevitable. Adam Blythe delivered Hushovd in a perfect position. Norway’s cycling superstar took the command 200 metres before the finishing line and collected his sixth victory of the 2013 season. He leads the overall classification with an advantage of three seconds over Van Hummel and four seconds over Helven who became the best young rider.

Hushovd: “It couldn’t be better”
“I was very determined to win today”, reacted Hushovd as soon as he got off the bike. “It means a lot to me to be a winner at a race that I have supported a lot from the start.”

“This is the best bike race I’ve ever taken part in. Yesterday I missed out because of the positioning but I felt strong today. The final sprint was a bit chaotic but I got an excellent lead out by Adam Blythe. When I got out of his wheel and I launched my sprint with 200 metres to go, I got the feeling of being unbeatable.”

“In fact, nobody managed to pass me. This is fantastic. The support of the people here in the north of Norway is even bigger than I expected. The route today showed how beautiful this place is. It couldn’t be a better outcome for me. Now I hope to be able to keep the leader’s jersey till the end.”

1 HUSHOVD Thor BMC Racing Team 03:38:09
2 VAN ASBROECK Tom Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise @ st
3 HALLER Marco Katusha Team @ st
4 VAN HUMMEL Kenny Vacansoleil – DCM @ st
5 ENGER Sondre Holst Team Plussbank @ st
6 BOL Jetse Belkin Pro Cycling Team @ st
7 YSSAAD Yannis BigMat – Auber 93 @ st
8 VERHELST Louis Cofidis Solutions Crédits @ st
9 MATZKA Ralf Team NetApp – Endura @ st
10 HUREL Tony Team Europcar @ st
@ st
43 BLYTHE Adam BMC Racing Team @ st
53 THWAITES Scott Team NetApp – Endura @ st
104 DOWNING Russell Team NetApp – Endura 00:38


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