Route through Arctic landscape
This time, the race goes all the way to the outermost point of Europe, the North Cape. Here, nature is raw and untamed, and there are few inhabitants. However, the landscape is ideal for cycling, with wide horizons, and high speeds are expected. Images of the globe at the North Cape, the distinctive island of Håja near Hammerfest, the Northern Lights Cathedral in the elegant streets of Alta and the Arctic Cathedral, set against the jagged profile of Tromsø, will be shown all over the world.
14. August: Hammerfest – North Cape, 204 km (127 miles)
The first stage starts in Hammerfest, the northernmost town in the world. From the rugged outer coast, the route swings in to sheltered fjords and birch forests, before climbing steadily towards the "cabin town" of Skaidi. The Hatter mountain pass lies across a treeless plain before the road goes gently down to Porsanger fjord. The route then follows this fjord along the E69 out to Repvåg and then goes across to the island of Magerøya via the North Cape Tunnel, which is almost 7 km (4 miles) long. From here, there are several steep hills along the Skipsfjord before an ascent to the plateau in the middle of the island. The most striking TV images will probably be of the cyclists hurtling around the numerous bends over the undulating plateau, with the characteristic horn of the North Cape in the background. The finish is at the North Cape itself.
15. August: Honningsvåg – Alta, 207 km (129 miles)
After an overnight stay in Honningsvåg, the race goes back through the North Cape Tunnel and along Porsanger fjord to Skaidi. It then tackles the Sennalandet mountain pass, an area of vast plains with low-lying vegetation, wide horizons and numerous reindeer. The few hills here are small, so the riders will clock up some high speeds. Before Alta, the road slopes gently downwards, gradually enters thick forest and runs alongside some settlements. The finish is in Alta town centre beside the Northern Lights Cathedral, and there is expected to be a large crowd there to welcome them.
16. August: Alta – Kvænangsfjellet mountain, 132 km (82 miles)
This stage marks the transition from the wide horizons of Finnmark to the mountainous fjord landscape of Troms. From Alta, the riders follow the fjord out and over, passing the village of Kåfjord with its old church and Tirpitz museum, before turning in along Langfjord. The landscape here becomes wilder and more mountainous, but the route follows the fjord. The section along the wide Kvænangen fjord presents a green and fertile landscape under the shadow of sharp peaks. The day ends with a brutal climb up to the viewpoint on Kvænangsfjellet mountain, about 400 metres (1300 feet) above sea level, with fantastic views of the Kvænangstindan mountain and the Øksfjordjøkelen glacier on the other side of the fjord.
17. August: Tromsø – Sommarøy – Tromsø, 165 km (103 miles)
The final stage starts and ends in Tromsø, and runs in a loop around the southern part of Kvaløya island. The route follows the shoreline around Tromsøya island and the suburbs of Kvaløya. However, after Kaldfjord it goes abruptly uphill to Kattfjordeidet, a climb of around 200 metres (650 feet), between steep, thousand-metre-high peaks. By contrast, the area around Brensholmen village is an open coastal landscape with a beautiful archipelago. The return follows the Malangen fjord, edged by thick green forest and agricultural villages beneath sharp peaks. Just before the finish, the riders have to climb the hills on the west of Tromsøya island and plunge steeply downwards into Tromsø city centre. This stage runs through more densely populated areas, with much more hustle and bustle along the route, both out on Kvaløya island and around the finish in Tromsø city centre.
- Arctic Race of Norway has its own website with plenty of information
- The tourist board in Hammerfest's website is worth checking out.
- The North Cape also has a very informative website.
- Everything on Alta is found on the website of their touristboard.
- Visit Tromsø, the website of the tourist board, stocks a lot of info.