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Eiking (2nd): “There’s still a lot to happen tomorrow”

Following his victory at the queen stage of the previous edition of the Arctic Race of Norway (2.Pro, 5-8/8) on Storheia Summit, Odd Christian Eiking was very keen on repeating this performance this Saturday. Just like in 2019, the finish was situated on top of a steep final climb (3.7km at 7.7%). The peloton had to climb from sea level to 370 meter of altitude to reach Fjellandsby Summit. Before, 184.5 kilometer had to be covered from Finnsnes. The early breakaway played again an important role. Therefore, Baptiste Planckaert sacrificed himself to reduce the gap with the leaders. His teammates surrounded Odd Christian Eiking on his way to the foot of the final climb. The steep slopes immediately caused damage. Eiking attacked with 1,5 kilometer to go and other moves followed. A leading trio tackled the final kilometer first and it was eventually Ben Hermans who took the stage victory, half a bike ahead of Eiking. The Norwegian rider, 2nd in the provisional general classification, will start the final stage in the same time as new race leader Ben Hermans.

It was very close, but I can't change anything about it anymore. It's a pity to miss the stage victory by only a couple of centimeters, but anything is still possible in the general classification. I namely remember a very strong performance from Rein Taaramäe in 2015, taking the final victory from Ben Hermans in the final stage. Back then, the Belgian rider was already the strongest on Fjellandsby Summit. During the sprint today I hoped that he would slow down in the final meters, but he was very strong until the finish line. In retrospect, I should have started my sprint earlier, when the road was still going up. But as I said, tomorrow it will be hard again so we will grab this new opportunity. Either way, the support of my teammates is perfect!

It will be a second game until the final hectometers of this Arctic Race of Norway in Harstad. A hilly final and uphill sprint promise another exciting stage. The start of the 163.5 kilometer race will be given at 13h55 in Gratangen.


Photo: Arctic Race of Norway – Thomas Maheux


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