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Alberto Dainese (Team dsm-firmenich) won the opening stage and took the first leader’s jersey in the Arctic Race of Norway.
The Italian entered the box with several hundred meters to go, but patiently waited for an opening to start his sprint, starting several riders behind, then passed Noah Hobbs (Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ) at the line to take the win in Alta. Clément Champoussin (Arkéa-Samsic) reached third place.
“It’s been a few months since I’ve raced since the Giro, but I’ve been training well. Today there was a bit of pressure, let’s say, one of the only sprinters from the WorldTour teams, so I had to deliver,” Dainese said.
“It was unfortunate that we lost Andreas Leknessund to fever after he won the title last year. This morning when he said I have to win for him, I did my best.
“All the guys rode well and it wasn’t easy at the front. We were in the box. In the sprint, I was about 15th with 300m to go, so I thought it wasn’t for the win, but when I found a gap , I could pass the guys and I’m happy to finish it.”
Dainese now lead the race by four seconds over Hobbs as the race heads into stage 2 from Alta to Hammerfest on Friday.
The opening stage of the Arctic Race of Norway offered the course a relatively flat 171 km from Kautokeino to Alta. The route included an intermediate sprint in Masi at 60km. The peloton then raced for almost 120km before reaching a shorter circuit that included multiple climbs over Bossekop (1.7km at 4.1%) and a sprint to the finish line on each lap.
An early breakaway group formed including Johan Ravnøy (Team Coop-Repsol), Fergus Browning (Trinity Racing), Lewis Bower and Trym Brennsæter (both Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ), Torbjørn Røed (Above & Beyond Cancer Cycling World p /b) , and Benjamin Perry (Human Powered Health).
The six-rider movement formed in the first 20 kilometers of the race and initially gained 2:50 on the field led by the dsm-firmenich team.
Bauer collected the full points in the intermediate sprint, but the gap to the field slowly fell as the race approached the course’s more uphill second section.
The six riders had just 1:25 with 100km to go as Uno-X Pro Cycling took the lead and set the pace from the pack behind.
Bauer took the Bosekop climb and took the points over the top, and only Browning and Ravnoy could hold those speeds, edging out the others ahead of the breakaway with 36km to go.
Bauer took points again on the following climbs over Bossekop, but the trio held on to one minute 15 seconds with 25km to go, the remaining riders from the opening move having already been swept away by the peloton.
Multiple attacks from the field led to a solo break away from Daryl Impey (Israel Premier Tech), but he only had seven seconds in a charging field with 6km to go.
Impey’s pushed his slim lead to 15 seconds with 4km to go, but as dsm-firmenich and Jayco AlUla pulled the peloton into the final, his lead dropped to four seconds and he was caught under the flamme rouge.
Movistar and Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ took a strong lead-out and Hobbs started his sprint first. However, a boxed-in Dainese finally found an opening in the last few hundred metres, which gave him the space to start his slow but powerful sprint. Clearly the fastest in the field, the Italian came from several riders behind and passed Hobbs right on the line to take the stage win.
The results are supported by FirstCycling
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