Leknessund wins first organised European race since COVID-19 lockdown
Uno-X youngster takes victory in Klatrekongen Fuel of Norway race
Wednesday saw the first outdoor race between professional cyclists held in western Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down racing in mid-March. The Klatrekongen Fuel of Norway race, an uphill individual time trial, was won by Andreas Leknessund of the Uno-X Development Team.
The 20-year-old, who is to step up to the WorldTour with Team Sunweb next year, set a time of 10:12 over the 4.1km course, which averaged 7.1 per cent. He beat Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) by 21 seconds, while Ådne Holter (Joker Fuel of Norway) finished third at 34 seconds.
The race, which is not an official event on the UCI European calendar, was organised in secret by Team Ineos directeur sportif Gabriel Rasch and Tour of Norway director Birger Hungerholdt in order to limit any crowds.
Norway has been under lockdown since March 12, and has suffered 8,168 cases and 229 deaths. Earlier this month, the country's government announced a loosening of restrictions, with schools now open and more measures to be relaxed throughout June.
Organisers followed a strict anti-coronavirus protocol, with control measures in place including riders starting one by one and no roadside audience – hence the secretive organisation.
"The reason we keep it secret is where we want to be, because we don't want to have a lot of people here in the situation we are in," said Hungerholdt on the race website. "We therefore try to keep it 'closed' so that we could do this in a proper and safe manner.
Several WorldTour riders are taking part in the race, including the NTT Pro Cycling duo of Edvald Boasson Hagen and Rasmus Tiller and Lotto Soudal's Carl Frederik Hagen.
Boasson Hagen, the three-time Tour de France stage winner and biggest name on the start list, finished in sixth in the hill climb, 43 seconds down on Leknessund.
"It was harder than I expected. It was hard," Leknessund told TV2 after the race. "I went out hard hoping it would last, and it did. I wanted to go fast. I've made good preparations in recent days. I was motivated."
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team||0:10:12|
|2||Tobias Foss (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma||0:00:21|
|3||Ådne Holter (Nor) Joker Fuel of Norway||0:00:34|
|4||Iver Knotten (Nor) Team Coop||0:00:37|
|5||Carl Frederik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal||0:00:39|
|6||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling||0:00:43|
|7||Rasmus Tiller (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling||0:00:57|
|8||Torstein Træen (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team||0:01:28|
|9||Øivind Lukkedahl (Nor) Joker Fuel of Norway||0:01:34|
|10||Trond Håkon Trondsen (Nor) Team Coop||0:01:34|
Finally, live racing on tv in Norway! @Tobias_S_Foss 2nd @tv2 #klatrekongen #fuelofnorway @JumboVismaRoad pic.twitter.com/OA3sUmTjXwMay 20, 2020
When we race, we race to win. Well done @andreaslek and we have lots of 💛 at the podium!#development https://t.co/ERan1sO7o3May 20, 2020
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.