Northern Norway’s coastline once again made a spectacular backdrop earlier this month when the world’s cycle elite met in the northernmost bike race in the world.
In 2013, the Arctic Race became the first professional road cycling race to be held above the Arctic Circle. After having wound through the Norwegian fjords around the idyllic islands of Lofoten and Vesterålen in 2013, and having led the pack to the North Cape in 2014, the Arctic Race of Norway 2015 continued its exploration beyond the Arctic Circle to discover the hidden treasures of the north.
Running from Thursday 13 August to Sunday 16 August, the third edition of the Arctic Race of Norway covered a total distance of 700 kilometers in four stages across Northern Norway.
Last year’s race was a great success with over 150,000 spectators, and there is every reason to believe that the number was succeeded this year. Extensive media coverage and a vivid presence in social media – Arctic Race’s Facebook page has about 40,500 likes.
The popularity of road cycling in Norway has grown dramatically in the last 20 years, and thus the Arctic Race of Norway is not just for cyclists. Spectators and visitors now have the chance to enjoy the excitement of watching a major race, as well as experiencing the great wilderness and bustling cities of Northern Norway.
The race is organized by Amaury Sports, the French organization behind Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and the Dakar Rally.
Four new stages in stunning surroundings
The route’s four stages were chosen to display some of Norway’s most awe-inspiring and diverse nature. TV-viewers, spectators and cyclists alike could marvel at the contrasts along the way – from rocky mountains lining the coastline to the stark beauty of vast open plains and snow-capped peaks in the background.
- Stage 1: Harstad – Harstad (210 kilometers)
- Stage 2: Evenskjer – Setermoen (155 kilometers)
- Stage 3: Senja (Finnsnes) – Målselv (175 kilometers)
- Stage 4: Narvik – Narvik (160 kilometers)
Stage 1: Harstad – Harstad
The race started in the town of Harstad, which enjoys a beautiful and strategic location on Norway’s largest island Hinnøya in the county of Troms. In Harstad and its surrounding area you find a rich array of culture and nature-based experiences. The area surrounding Harstad is exciting, with Kvæfjord’s world famous strawberries and the Viking island of Bjarkøy with 523 islets and rocks. Visitors who arrived before 18 July coulf do all of the above with the added bonus of the midnight sun.
Stage 2: Evenskjer – Setermoen
The starting point for stage 2 was Evenskjer in the municipality of Skånland, where the nature is grand, from inland wild mountains to coastal landscapes. Here are rich natural resources with sea fishing from land or boat, or inland fishing in rivers and lakes. The riders then headed inland and crossed trough a military base 3 kilometers from the finish in Setermoen.
Stage 3: Senja (Finnsnes) – Målselv
The third stage was undoubtedly the climax of the race. It started with a 100 kilometer loop on the Senja island, a genuine gem of Northern Norway. The finish stage was demanding, with a tough climb up to the mountain resort of Målselv – 3.5 kilometers at a gradient of six percent. Along the route the riders and spectators could appreciate the beauty of mountains and fjords, long beaches of fine sand and fishing villages.
Senja National Tourist Route is a 90-kilometre-long stretch of road between Gryllefjord and Botnhamn. In addition, the official route includes detours to Mefjordvær and Husøya, for an additional 12 kilometers of road. The roads are ideal for cycling. Visitors can experience many great viewpoints, and with ferry and express boat you can cycle from island to island.
Stage 4: Narvik – Narvik
The peleton returned to the Nordland region on the last day, on a stage full of hazards around Narvik. The port of Narvik was made famous after a major Second World War battle in 1940. The bearer of the blue and orange leader’s jersey had his work cut out for him when it comes to keeping his rivals at bay, as they could take advantage of a particularly lethal last eleven kilometers containing a 2.5 kilometer slope at a gradient of six percent to be climbed four times.
Narvik is a lively place that tempts you with wild, dramatic and beautiful Arctic experiences. A cable car takes you up to the view point on Narvikfjellet mountain, from where you can enjoy scenic views over the Ofotfjord.
Only an hour away from Narvik by car, visitors may enjoy Norway’s national mountain Stetind, a natural obelisk towering 1,381 meters straight up from the fjord. The journey from Narvik to Stetind is a fantastic way to experience Ofoten and enjoy the unique landscape and tranquil surroundings.
Cycling Fever in Norway, source: Visit Norway