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Aug 16, 2015 – Just like the first two editions of the Arctic Race of Norway, the third one has had a thrilling finale with Rein Taaramäe taking the title from race leader Ben Hermans who had a mechanical and then couldn’t respond to all the attacks. The BMC Racing Team didn’t lose everything as Silvan Dillier claimed the last stage in Narvik in style.
ASO/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad
The third edition of the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow race was the first one won by a foreigner as Brit Owen Dudley, a first year junior from Manx Viking Wheelers in the isle of Man like Peter Kennaugh and Mark Cavendish, won his duel against Finland’s Jaakko Hänninen while Hans Kristian Rudland from Lillehammer CK crossed the line in third place. Once the opening event was completed, 124 riders started the fourth and conclusive stage in Narvik. Green jersey holder Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the first intermediate sprint ahead of Maximilian Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) in Vidrek (km 18.5). Seven riders rode away just after the sprint line: Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Maxime Cam (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin), Gert Joeäär (Cofidis), Robert Förster (Unitedhealthcar), Philip Eidsheim (FixIT.no) and Reidar Borgersen (Joker). Team Sparebanken Sør was unhappy to have missed the move and rode hard behind but they didn’t make it across.
Elmiger was the highest ranked of the breakaway riders, 52 seconds adrift, so BMC Racing Team took care of the chase. The deficit of the bunch was three minutes with 100km to go. Europcar came in help. The front group split at the entrance of the finishing circuit with Cam, Borgersen and Elmiger staying ahead. With 32km to go, race leader Ben Hermans had a mechanical. He made it across but that was only the beginning of his worries. Attacking from the bunch, stage 2 winner Sam Bennett bridged the gap to the leaders and replaced Borgersen in the three-man group opening the race. As they got caught 26km before the end, August Jensen (Coop-Øster Hus) sprinted for the second King of the Mountains price of the day. That awarded him the trophy for the second year in a row and the new salmon jersey.
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Rein Taaramäe (Astana) rode away with 20km to go, initially with Audun Brekke Flotten (Ringeriks-Kraft), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Michael Gogl (Tinkoff-Saxo). Hermans was isolated. He got no help from other teams and only kept losing time to the three leaders. With 7km to go, Taaramäe couldn’t hold the pace of Zakarin but he courageously made it back at the top of the hill. As he was racing in support of Hermans, Dillier was fresher than the two others. The Swiss rider sprinted to victory, his first as a professional except for time trials (he’s the national champion for individual time trial and a world champion for team time trial), and claimed the second place overall behind Taaramäe who took his second stage race in two weeks after the Tour of Burgos.
Overall winner Rein Taaramäe declared: “I was surprised to drop Ben Hermans so easily. We didn’t even attack in the climb. The pace was not really high. I liked the course of the final circuit. There was almost no flat part, so I rode away because I thought the peloton wasn’t going to be able to catch us. It’s a fantastic feeling to win the Arctic Race of Norway, firstly because it’s wonderful to win two stage races in two weeks, this one after the Tour of Burgos. It’s amazing. Yesterday I was pretty disappointed in the evening but it’s the complete opposite feeling now. We’ve had a very nice podium presentation by very nice people here in northern Norway. I feel like at home. The atmosphere is so different than in the other countries where we normally race, France, Spain, etc. I really want to come back here one day. It’s an important win in my career. That’s the kind of targets I’m looking for as a pro bike rider. I’m delighted with the Arctic Race of Norway on my palmarès.”