The world's northernmost elite cycle race
The Arctic Race of Norway is the world's northernmost road bike race for the world's cycling elite. Since it was first held in 2013, the Arctic Race of Norway has cycled its way through much of Northern Norway, from the North Cape in the north to Helgeland in the south. The organisation Arctic Race of Norway hosts the race in partnership with the Amaury Sports Organisation, which also organises the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
The 2017 stages
This year's stages go through the central, green region of Northern Norway, with a varied landscape of forest and mountains, though with a good share of sea and fjord. The most spectacular TV images will come from the mountainous island of Andørja, the Ofotfjord, Lyngen Alps and outer coast of Sommarøy island. Cultural highlights to enjoy will centre around the finishing lines in Narvik and Tromsø.
Engenes to Narvik: From fjord to fjord
Engenes is a tiny village at the northern tip of Andørja, Norway's craggiest and most mountainous island. The route follows Bygden Sound in the shadow of impressive mountains, before turning in along the Astafjord, which has been voted the most beautiful fjord in Norway, and over the bridge to the mainland. The riders will pass beneath the green hillsides lining the Salangen fjord to the valleys of Inner Troms. They will cycle alongside the Lavangen and Gratangen fjords before cresting the mountain pass at Gratangsfjellet (421 metres, 1,382 ft) and speeding down to the magnificent Ofotfjord. The final stretch will take them over the Rombak Bridge and in to the iron ore port of Narvik, where the finishing line will be in the city centre.
Sjøvegan to Bardufoss Airport
Today's route winds through inland forests, and its highest point is 330 metres. From Sjøvegan, the race traces a loop up to the E6 near Brandvoll. From Fossbakken, it goes gently down through Spansdalen valley to the Lavangen fjord, then over the hill to Salangen again. From there it will pass through a wooded landscape before reaching Sørreisa. The final climb will take the riders to Bardufoss, where the finishing line is at the airport.
Lyngseidet to Finnvikdalen
For this stage, the race moves to Lygseidet, a charming village beneath the Lyngen Alps. The first part follows the western edge of the Lyngenfjord to Nordkjosbotn, and then the riders will cycle out along the Balsfjord and on to Malangen, through a heavily forested landscape. However, they will soon see the 1,100 metre (3,600 ft) peaks of the Bentsjordtinden range, and the tunnel under the waters of Rystraumen will take them over to Kvaløya island. The eastern side of Kvaløya is dotted with the first homes of the Tromsø suburbs, and after the final push up Finvikdalen valley, they will arrive at the finishing line, where the viewpoint at the top, 270 metres (885 ft) above sea level, acts as the finishing line.
Tromsø to Tromsø
Today's start and finish are both in the city of Tromsø, but most of the route will be on the mountainous island of Kvaløya, on the other side of Sandnessund Bridge. The circuit follows the eastern and southern sides of the island, alongside the mighty Rystraumen sound. Once the riders reach the fishing village of Sommarøy, they will start heading back to Tromsø, following the shores of the Kattfjord, with spectacular peaks as a backdrop. After a tough ascent, this road will take them to Kattfjordeidet, today's highest point at 155 metres (508 ft). The final part will take them through the residential areas of Kvaløya and onto Tromsøya island, where we expect most of Tromsø's 75,000 inhabitants to be lining the route or enjoying the festival around the finishing line.