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Volcano strands Arvesen on North Sea oil rig

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Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen makes some last-minute adjustments.

Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen makes some last-minute adjustments. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/
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Kurt Alse Arvesen (Sky) is always easy to spot.

Kurt Alse Arvesen (Sky) is always easy to spot. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

Team Sky's Kurt Asle Arvesen may have the most unusual travel and cycling experience of all the riders delayed by Volcano Eyjafjallajökul. Last Wednesday he flew by helicopter to an oil rig 200 kilometres off the coast of Norway to give a lecture and spinning demonstration to the workers stationed there, however, the subsequent closure of European airspace prevented his flight home on Thursday.

"I first realised I was stranded on Thursday morning when we were told no helicopters were flying,” he said on the Team Sky website. “They couldn't use boats to get people on and off because the sea level was 40 metres below the platform and it was too dangerous to dock.”

Despite the delay, the 35-year-old was able to find ways of continuing his training. "Thankfully they have a lot of equipment out there so it wasn't a problem to fill my time. I kept busy by doing lots more spinning and weight training.”

He also used the particular characteristics of the rig to his advantage. "I went right down to the bottom of the rig, which is about 155 metres below sea level, and that meant I used thousands of stairs. I did that trip about 10 times so that will definitely have kept me fit.”

The Sky rider was able to retain his fitness on the oil rig, but also took advantage of the unique opportunity to experience life on the remote station. “It was interesting to see how life works aboard a platform, and I am impressed with the installation. It is a separate community, but with all amenities. There are many clever minds behind such structures. And the people on the platform were very nice," he told the Norwegian website VG Nett.

The biggest problem for Arvesen was at meal times, as he has to keep his weight down. “There is much good food out there, and it's served 24-hours-a-day. I tried to steer away from the dessert table, but eating was a little consolation for the problems.”

"I had my own room but it was really tiny, there wasn't much space other than for a bed. There was a TV in it though so I was able to watch the Amstel Gold Race,” said Arvesen on his team's website. “They also had computer rooms so I could get on the internet, but I couldn't use my mobile phone."

However, all ended well for the Team Sky rider and he was able to make his way home on Monday. A helicopter took him to Bergen, Norway before taking a bus to complete the remainder of the journey.

The adventure hasn't had any effect on his racing, as he is currently taking a break after his Classics campaign and is not scheduled to race again until the of Tour de Picardie, May 14-16.

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