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Re: Arctic Race of Norway
« on: August 18, 2018, 11:47 »
It is a bit late, I know, but still time to sneak in a stage 3 preview:

Stage 3 Honningsvåg – Hammerfest,  194 km

This time, I think we can finally have a more 'quiet' stage. Although most of the route is thoughly wind-exposed, both the early Porsangerfjord section (kms 16-91) and the late section on Kvaløya from Kvalsund to Hammerfest (kms 140-171) is more or less completely open to the winds and it is not much protection elsewhere either.
The weather forecast today is "better" with only light winds[1]  and 15 to 20 degrees celsius along the road - should be quite ideal for a long day out and "relaxing" a few legs that must be quite tired after two days with very exhausting crosswind riding and finishes waaay ahead of the fastest time schedules. My prognosis is: today they will stick to schedule  :P

There are a few climbs to concentrate on, firstly there is the infamous Nordkapptunnelen: if you look closely at the profile here you may notice that it extends below 0 meters and this stage actually goes about as deep as it goes high. The climb out of the tunnel is the hardest in the race and is rightfully assigned a 1st category - the descent down into the tunnel, if I recall correctly, is the reason why Marcel Kittel will never race in Norway again. It might be a good idea to put lights on your bikes, dudes! (On sportives here it is mandatory.) Going down fast into the cold, dark tunnel is scary enough with lights, and it is required if you want to get those points for the salmon jersey on the top of the climb back out (looking at #fortuneo Sindre Lunke).

Right...so there will be a breakaway with mostly good climbers and they will just have to keep pedaling...pedaling...can we say pedalong(?)the beautiful Porsanger Fjord, over the Hatter climb approx midway (another not so dramatic one)...down to Kvalsund and along more fjords into Hammerfest. There are a couple of rounds on a circuit in town before the finish line, and it includes a few short climbs which will at least be selective and possibly may be decisive for the race outcome. The longest of these climbs top out at 136 m above sea level, they are going up there twice, doen to sea level and up a smaller hill at 67 m.a.s.l.. This smaller hill is also the finish line location. In the context of this race, that is a lot of climbing in very few kilometers. This part will probably be all the action today, but worth watching, even if it is hard to prioritize among all the races going on this weekend.

My humble attempt at predictions:
This stage is one for the puncheurs, but it is also one for the GC riders. It is very tight for the top 3 with only 6 secs splitting Chernetskii, Joyce, and Hoelgaard.
Team Joker -Icopal #joker is definetly on the offensive and announced that they will no longer be chasing stage wins - they are going all in for the GC. That is not just a little offensive it is overly ballsy as #astana Chernetskii is very good on these short hills and - he's got a world tour squad to help him, whereas they are a conti team.  Another team challenging, although outside the top 3 GC currently, is #bmc - they were everywhere yesterday except on the podium, which must have been disappointing. Alberto Bettiol seems to be their main man both for stages and GC and I think he'll continue to challenge despite a disappointing finale yesterday. It seems like #bmc has brought the best team, but #astana brought Fuglsang and he makes all the difference.

Stage win:
*** #astana Chernetskii
** #corendon van der Poel, #vitalconcept Pacher
* #wanty Eiking, #academy Sondre Holst Enger, #vlaanderen DeClerq

A few of the listed riders are a bit risky bets:
#academy Holst Enger used to be quite good on stages that required some climbing and finsihed with uphill sprints before joining #academy but with the Israelis we have only seen him as a flat-land sprinter. August Jensen would probably be their candidate today, but with the bruises he had after yesterday's fall I sort of doubt he will have a good day today.

As for Eiking, he's got a saddlesore problem and may just as well withdraw, but he's still in the race for a reason and that may be today's stage - it is definetly made for riders like him. Yesterday he had to pedal standing up as often as the wind would allow him to do so.
 1. (0-1 m/s in HAmmefest is not really light winds...more like absolutely quiet...it is a hold-on-to-your-hat town)
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  • « Last Edit: August 18, 2018, 17:29 by LukasCPH »


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