Olympic gold medal winners Filippo Ganna of Italy and Matt Walls of Great Britain return to road racing with their Ineos Grenadiers and Bora-Hansgrohe professional teams at this week’s Tour of Norway, swapping the boards for the Fjords and four days of racing near the south coast of the Scandinavian country.
Also in action are local resident and 2019 winner Alexander Kristoff, who hails from Stavanger, where the race is centrered and teams stay for the four nights after each stage.
Tour de France revelation Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) is also in action after his second place in Paris, as is recent Tour of Denmark stage winner Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and breakaway expert Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal). The Norwegian Uno-X team will race on home roads, with Markus Hoelgaard leading the ProTeam after his win at the Arctic Race of Norway, held much further to the north.
The Tour of Norway is usually held in May but was rescheduled for late August due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The start lists includes seven WorldTour teams, with the Ineos Grenadiers squad also including Leonardo Basso, Jonathan Castroviejo, Ben Swift, Luke Rowe and Ganna’s Great Britain team pursuit rival Ethan Hayter, who won a silver medal with Walls in the Madison at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Ganna lead Italy to gold in the Team Pursuit after finishing fourth in the time trial. The Tour of Norway represents his return to Ineos Grenadiers as he prepares for the World Time Trial Championships in Flanders and possible ride at the rescheduled Paris-Roubaix on October 3.
Walls won gold in the Omnium event and could be Bora-Hansgrohe’s protected sprinter alongside team leader Nils Politt.
The racing starts on Thursday with a rolling 150km stage and a 4.7km uphill finish in Sokndal, south of Stavangar. The 185km second stage is more suited for the sprinters with a long loop inland before returning to Sirdal for the flat finish.
The 160km third stage starts and finishes in Jørpeland, with a rolling stage route that visits the fjords and lakes of the area. Several short later climbs could split the peloton.
The Tour of Norway ends in Stavanger on Sunday with a 156km stage to the south of the city. A rolling finale should not stop the sprinters from dominating the results.