The fourth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway has attracted a strong start list with Rein Taaramäe (Team Katusha) to defend his title from 2015 while Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) and Italian national champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) are likely to challenge for stage wins at the 2.HC race.
Norwegians Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling) are also confirmed for the race and will go head-to-head in the sprints against John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and FDJ's Arnaud Demare.
"I can't wait for the 4th edition of the Arctic Race of Norway to start. With eleven WorldTeams on the starting line, a record number for an event in Norway, we will have a high-quality line-up, and quite honestly, looking at the list of entrants I find it hard to hide my enthusiasm!," race ambassador Thor Hushovd said.
"Apart from the fight for the general ranking, which is going to be intense with riders of the level of Philippe Gilbert or title-holder Rein Taaramäe, I'm really looking forward to following the battle among the sprinters over the four days. There could be sparks between John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff and Sondre Holst Enger, the new norwegian whiz kid!"
The race starts August 11 with a 176km stage from Fauske to Rognan, while stage 2 takes the peloton from Mo I Rana to Sandnessjøen over 186km. A 160km stage follows from Nesna to Korgfjellet and is likely to decide the general classification. The race concludes with the 193km stage 4 Arctic Circle (Rana Kommune) to Bodø.
Joining the 11 WorldTour teams on the start list are seven Pro-Continental teams and four Norwegian Continental teams with Taaramäe the only former winner to pin on a number.
Other riders confirmed for the race include Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Lotto NL-Jumbo duo Moreno Hofland and Sep Vanmarcke, Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) and Direct Energie's Sylvain Chavanel.
Along with the updated lighter blue leader's jersey, the 'viking of the day' classification jersey is a new introduction for the 2016 edition of the race.
22 teams and confirmed riders for the 2016 Arctic Race of Norway
Astana Pro Team: Andrea Guardini (Ita), Lars Boom (Ned)
BMC Racing Team: Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Amaël Moinard (Fra)
Team Dimension Data: Tyler Farrar (USA), Matt Brammeier (Irl)
FDJ: Arnaud Démare (Fra), Yoann Offredo (Fra)
IAM Cycling: Sonde Holst Enger (Nor), Stef Clement (Ned)
Team Giant-Alpecin: John Degenkolb (Ger)
Team Katusha: Rein Taaramäe (Est), Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo: Moreno Hofland (Ned), Sep Vanmarcke (Bel)
Team Sky: Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor), Ben Swift (GBr)
Tinkoff: Oscar Gatto (Ita), Yuri Trofimov (Rus)
Trek-Segafredo: Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita), Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita)
Direct Energie: Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)
ONE Pro Cycling: Matt Goss (Aus)
Fortuneo Vital Concept: Jonathan Hivert (Fra)
Stölting Service Group: Fabian Wegmann (Ger)
Team Bora-Argon 18: Sam Bennett (Irl)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Preben Van Hecke (Bel)
Wanty - Groupe Gobert: Marco Marcato (Ita), Enrico Gasparotto (Ita)
Team Coop-ØsterHus: August Jensen (Nor)
Team Joker – Byggtorget: Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor)
Team Ringeriks – Kraft: Jonas Abrahamsen (Nor)
Team Sparebanken Sør: Herman Dahl (Nor)