Without any lead-out in the final kilometer, trusting only his legs and guile, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) surfed wheels and found the right gap to sprint to victory in stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway.
“In the end it was a little bit of a downhill before it kicked back up, and I got completely swamped and lost the wheel,” Bennett said. “I was lucky coming into the final. I was just sprinting through gaps; in the end, a door opened and I just took it. I’m absolutely delighted.”
The early break of six went clear after 60km of racing: Maxat Ayazbayev (Astana), Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne-Séché Environnement), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Sparebanken Sør), Torstein Traeen (Ringeriks-Kraft), Sindre Eid Hermansen (FixIT.no), and Krister Hagen (Coop-Øster Hus). On the final KOM, with 45km to go, Bideau won a special intermediate prize of half a ton of salmon that will be delivered to him in France by the Norwegian salmon farmers. He tried to carry on solo but the whole race was brought back together with 15km to go.
Katusha took control of the sprint early, with Giant-Alpecin waiting in the wings at the end of the 155km stage. Just before the final two kilometers, Bora-Argon 18 took over at the front. With one kilometer left, Katusha was back in the mix at the head of the peloton, along with Giant.
Tinkoff-Saxo pushed up the right side late with about 500 meters to go, momentarily boxing out Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
Federico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare) started the sprint early, right up the middle, but Bennett was ready, sitting about 10 riders back. The gaps opened up perfectly for the Irishman, and he emerged in the final few hundred meters to come by Zurlo, who ended up second. Kristoff managed a third-place finish and kept his overall lead.