Artic Race part two: Further challenges, further north
In 2013, the Arctic Race became the first professional road cycling race to be held above the Arctic Circle. After winding its way through the Nordland and Troms regions, the Arctic Race 2014 is set to continue exploring Northern Norway with the first two stages in Finnmark, taking the peloton 400 kilometres further north.
Running from Thursday August 14 to Sunday August 17, the second edition of the Arctic Race of Norway will cover a total distance of 439 miles 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 this number will be succeeded this year. Norwegian cycling megastar Thor Hushovd, who won the race last year, has confirmed his attendance yet again, as has another famous Norwegian cycling athlete, Alexander Kristoff. Extensive media coverage and a vivid presence in social media – Arctic Race’s Facebook page has almost 30,000 likes – suggest that everything is in place for a cycling fever to grip Norway.
The race is organised by Amuary Sports, the French organisation behind Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and the Dakar Rally.
Four new stages in stunning surroundings
The route’s four stages have been chosen to display some of Norway’s most awe-inspiring and diverse nature. TV-viewers, spectators and cyclists will 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 (August 14): Hammerfest – The North Cape (126 miles)
- Stage 2 (August 15): Honningsvåg – Alta (128 miles)
- Stage 3 (August 16): Alta – Kvænangsfjellet mountain (82 miles)
- Stage 4 (August 17): Tromsø – Tromsø (102 miles)
Stage 1: Hammerfest – the North Cape
The race starts in Hammerfest, which can claim the title “the most northern city in the world”. Founded in 1684, it is also the oldest town in Northern Norway. The municipality consists of a vast and largely untouched recreational area, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities in beautiful surroundings. There are excellent fishing rivers and mountains for climbing and walking. Further options include kayaking, bird watching and golf. Visitors who arrive before July 27 can do all of the above with the added bonus of the midnight sun.
Visit Hammerfest’s website for information about accommodation, and transport to the area.
The race then makes a push towards the North Cape, situated on Magerøya Island and one of the most northernmost accessible points in Europe. The 10007-foot steep cliff with the iconic globe monument has been a popular goal for adventurous travellers for decades. The main attraction is the cliff itself and the North Cape Hall, where you can learn more about the area through films and exhibitions. There is also a restaurant, a bar, a café and a shop.
There is a range of accommodation options in Honningsvåg, the biggest town on the island around 21 miles from the North Cape cliff, from regular hotels to apartments and campsites. Two suggestions are the North Cape Guesthouse and Rica Hotel Honningsvåg, or check further accommodation options at nordkapp.no.
Stage 2: Honningsvåg – Alta
The starting point for stage 2 is Honningsvåg, from where the cyclists make their way southwards. After the first "underwater" mountain point ever (the exit from Magerøya Island is five metres below sea level), the participants continue towards Alta and a climb up Kvænangsfjellet. The leap to higher latitudes brings different types of terrain, affecting the character of the race. A mere six kilometres before the end of the stage, the top of Vestfjordfjellet has to be conquered.
Stage 3: Alta – Kvænangsfjellet
Alta, known as the gateway to Finnmark, is the largest town in the region. Until July 24, travellers can enjoy daylight around the clock thanks to the midnight sun. Cycling enthusiasts who arrive in July can also check out another biking competition, the tough mountain bike race Offroadfinnmark which takes place from 29 July to August 2 2014. It is also possible to combine the trip to the Arctic Race with a midnight summit hike, a hike to the largest canyon in Northern Europe or to a spectacular waterfall. Another recommendation is to go and see the UNESCO-protected prehistoric rock carvings.
Search for accommodation and find out how to get to Alta.
Kvænangsfjellet is situated 1318 feet above sea level and offers superb views. In the summers, Sami people spend time here. There is a guesthouse called Gildetun.
Stage 4: Tromsø – Tromsø
The race comes to a close with a loop stage in the Arctic town of Tromsø. The competitors will first go around the coast of Kvaløya Island before tackling a dynamic urban circuit in the streets of the largest city in Northern Norway. There are five laps in all, potentially decisive bonus seconds on offer at two intermediate sprints, a bump one and a half miles from the finish line and the prospect of a record-breaking crowd gathering to watch the spectacle.
Tromsø is usually referred to as the capital of the Arctic. It is a lively place with plenty of culture and history, surrounded by beautiful nature. There are numerous festivals and events during the summer, for example the Sami festival Riddu Riddu (July 9-13 2014) and the Træna festival (July 10-12 2014).
Search for accommodation options and find information on how to get to Tromsø.
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