Tour des Fjords 2015: Norway takes four of five stage victories
Norwegian American Weekly
The world’s top cyclists experienced the stunning hills and fjords of Norway’s west coast from May 27 to 31 in Tour des Fjords, a five-stage UCI Continental Circuits race. Throughout the five days, 21 teams of cyclists covered 912 kilometers (about 567 miles) of Norwegian terrain.
The race began with a 177 km stage from Bergen to Norheimsund. Norway’s cyclists quickly demonstrated their dominance on their homeland, with superstar Alexander Kristoff (Team Katuska) earning the first stage victory.
“Tour des Fjords is my home race even though I’m not yet in the county where I live,” says Kristoff, who grew up in Stavanger. “It’s always nice to win but even nicer to win close to home.”
Kristoff’s teammate Austrian Marco Haller crossed the finish line right behind the Norwegian, making for a strong one-two finish for Team Katusha.
The next day, the cyclists faced the longest stage, the 205 km route from Jondal to Haugesund. Starting at the foot of Norway’s third largest glacier, Folgefonna, the cyclists then traveled along the coast’s mountains and fjords. Despite the incredible scenery, heavy rain and low temperatures contributed to a less-than-ideal experience for the athletes and spectators alike.
Living up to expectations, Kristoff secured another stage victory in Haugesund and actually cited the poor weather as a motivation: “It was freezing, we were shaking on our bikes, we just wanted to finish. That’s why we caught the break quite early.”
The rain continued for the third stage, the 166 km race from Stord to Sauda. This route was especially unique as it directed the cyclists underground into the Bømlafjord tunnel, which lies 262 meters under sea level—a world record for an international cycling race.
Kristoff led by 14 seconds going into stage three. He struggled in the beginning of the race, but regained the lead and held off several attacks in the last 20 meters to ensure his victory—his third consecutive stage win and 16th win of the season.
The fourth stage shook things up a bit after Kristoff’s dominance. The 177 km route from Stavanger to Sandnes featured a difficult 900 m long hill and a 23% incline.
Danish cyclist Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Tre For-Blue Water) was the first to cross the finish line in Sandnes for the biggest victory of his career—his first professional win. With the stage four victory, Kragh Andersen surpassed Kristoff in the lead.
“What a wonderful day for me and the team. To have two men in the top three is incredible,” said the 20-year-old cyclist, referencing his teammate Swede Michael Olsson’s third-place finish. “I’m so happy. This is the biggest victory in my career so far. I’m hoping to go pro soon.”
Heading into the final stage—the 186 km race from Hinna Park back to Stavanger—Kragh Andersen held the lead over Katusha’s Hallen by a mere eight seconds.
While Kragh Andersen and Hallen raced for the overall classification win, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) worked with his team to take the lead and secure the fifth stage victory in a sprint for his first win in almost two years.
“I’m very happy to finally win a race after two years,” he said. “I was feeling very good at the Tour of Norway last week and during the Tour des Fjords but I had to convert that into a victory. I’m glad it happens here in Norway before I’ll go to France to ride the Dauphiné.”
Following Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE), Haller came in third, which allowed him to surpass Kragh Andersen’s lead and take the overall classification victory.
“I’m proud and happy to make it in front of the amazing crowd,” said Haller. “This was a hard race with some big names competing so it’s a great feeling to be the overall winner.”
The mountains jersey went to the Spanish Amets Txurruka (Team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Kristoff unsurprisingly came away with the points classification.
This article originally appeared in the June 12, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.