Having failed to secure the opening stage at his home race, Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd (BMC) powered to victory at stage two of the Arctic Race of Norway.
Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM) took victory on Thursday’s first stage of the four day race, but Friday’s home victory delighted the crowd and left Hushovd himself extremely pleased.
“I was very determined to win today,” said Hushovd, “It means a lot to me to be a winner at a race that I have supported a lot from the start.”
The race, organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation, boasts Hushovd as an ambassador and has got off to a successful start in it’s first edition.
This is fantastic,” added Hushovd, “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.”
The day started with a breakaway at 20km consisting of six riders, including Russel 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).
With the race taking in some breathtaking scenery of northern Norway, the breakaway group gained a maximum distance of 2’40″ and managed to hold a gap until 7km to go, at which point a sprint finish became inevitable.
It was Vacansoleil who controlled the peloton for the majority of the race in service of race leader van Hummel, but Argos-Shimano and BMC put the real impetus into the group in order to catch the break and set up a bunch sprint.
In fine form after a successful Tour of Poland, there was no doubt that Hushovd would win as the race hit the final 200m, as a fine lead out by BMC teammate Adam Blythe left the Norweigian star in perfect position for the win.
“Yesterday I missed out because of the positioning but I felt strong today,” Husovd said. “The final sprint was a bit of a chaos 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.”
The victory leaves Hushovd three seconds ahead of Kenny van Hummel in general classification with two stages to race.