Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) will lead Norwegian hopes on home soil at the third edition of the Arctic Race of Norway. Kristoff claimed two stage wins on his way to finishing runner up to Steven Kruijswijk last year and start a favourite to add to his tally of 18 wins in 2015.
For 2015, the race has been upgraded to HC status with a record seven WorldTour teams to compete for honours across the four stages. A new winner of the race is certain with Kruijswijk deciding to race the Tour de l'Ain rather than defend his title while inaugural victor Thor Hushovd has retired.
The opening two stages of the race are likely to favour the sprinters with Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), Bryan Coquard (Team Europcar) and Lampre-Merida’s Niccolò Bonifazio and Davide Cimolai to challenge Kristoff and Boasson Hagen.
Stage three, from Senja to Målselv, with its 3.7km climb to the finish line at an average 8.7% is one for the likes of recent Vuelta a Burgos champion Rein Taaramäe (Astana), Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) and Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha) and is likely to decide the general classification. Stage four, a circuit around Narvik, is another stage suited for the fast men.
Kristoff is the only rider on the start list to have won a stage at Arctic Race of Norway but that fact is sure to change after the northern most racing the peloton encounters in 2015.
The Arctic Race of Norway runs from August 13-16.
Astana Pro Team: Rein Taaramäe (Est), Tanel Kangert (Est)
Team Katusha: Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor), Ilnur Zakarin (Rus), Marco Haller (Aut)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Michael Mørkøv (Den), Oliver Zaugg (Sui)
IAM Cycling: Mathias Frank (Sui), Martin Elmiger (Sui), Stef Clement (Ned), Enger (Nor)
Lampre-Merida: Davide Cimolai (Ita), Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita), José Serpa (Col)
Team Giant-Alpecin: Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned), Thierry Hupond (Fra)
BMC Racing Team: Silvan Dillier (Sui), Ben Hermans (Bel)
MTN-Qhubeka: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Theo Bos (Ned), Gerald Ciolek (Ger), Louis Meintjes (RSA)
Bora-Argon 18: Sam Bennett (Irl), Paul Voss (Ger)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise: Jens Wallays (Bel)
Cult Energy Pro Cycling: Linus Gerdemann (Ger), Fabian Wegmann (Ger), Russell Downing (GBr)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team: Robert Förster (Ger)
Bretagne-Séché Environnement: Jonathan Hivert (Fra), Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr)
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe), Adrien Petit (Fra)
Team Europcar: Byran Coquard (Fra)
Team Novo Nordisk: Andrea Peron (Ita)
Team Coop-Øster Hus: Fredrik Strand Galta (Nor)
Team FixIT.no: Filip Eidsheim (Nor)
Team Frøy-Bianchi: Oddbjorn Klomsten Andersen (Nor)
Team Joker: Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
Team Ringeriks-Kraft: Audun Brekke Fløtten (Nor)
Team Sparebanken Sør: Andreas Vangstad (Nor)