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, and places such as the North Cape, Alta, Tromsø, Harstad, Narvik, Vesterålen and Lofoten have been included in the programme. 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.
This year's stages
The Arctic Race of Norway 2016 is centred on both sides of the Arctic Circle. Much of the route follows the fjords, but the race also includes some challenging climbs and descents. The highest point is the Arctic Circle at 680 metres (2231 feet) above sea level at Saltfjellet. There will be gatherings in the fjord towns of Fauske, Mo i Rana, Mosjøen and Sandnessjøen, not to mention the Nordland city of Bodø. However, the most distinctive images will no doubt come from the world's most powerful tidal current, the Saltstraumen strait, and the beautiful Helgeland Bridge.
11th of August: Stage 1 Fauske-Rognan 176.5 km (109.7 miles)
From the small town of Fauske, the route follows the main road to Bodø with the Saltfjord to the left. In the town of Bodø, the race winds its way through the urban area and around Soløyvatnet, offering a charming route and an area where large crowds are likely to gather. The absolute high point is nevertheless the Saltstraumen strait, the world's strongest tidal current, which forces its way past the tall and elegant Saltstraumen Bridge, with views towards the 1100-metre (3609-feet) high peaks of the Børvasstindene mountains. However, riders will probably best remember the feeling in their thighs on the 542-metre (1778-feet) ascent up to the Ljøsenhammeren summit, before they quickly descend to the small village of Rognan in the inner reaches of the Saltfjord.
12th of August: Stage 2 Mo i Rana – Sandnessjøen 198 km (123 miles)
From the mining and industrial town of Mo i Rana, the race follows the E6 along the fjord, but takes a detour up to the 575-metre (1886-feet) high Korgfjellet. The route then races down to the picturesque wooden town of Mosjøen for a beautiful trip through the centre of town, before following the Vefsnfjord and Leirfjord and on to the Helgeland Bridge, which towers in between the fjords and islands, and on to the island of Alsten. Next comes a turn beneath the Seven Sisters mountain range, before reaching the finish line in the coastal town of Sandnessjøen.
13th of August: Stage 3 Nesna – Mo i Rana – Korgfjellet 160 km (99 miles)
From the idyllic seaside location of Nesna, the route crosses several ridges along the northern side of the Ranfjord to Mo i Rana. The route now criss-crosses the valley floor, making its way up to Langfjellet (230 metres [755 feet]), before the riders return to Mo i Rana, giving residents of Mo i Rana ample opportunity to see the cyclists rushing past. The section on the southern side of the fjord along the E6 is ideal for high speeds, while the final stretch leading up to Korgfjellet is a real test of strength. There are fantastic views from the finish line across to the 11 summits and glaciers of the Okstind massif and beyond towards the Swedish border.
14th of August: Stage 4 Arctic Circle – Bodø 193 km (120 miles)
Today sees the riders start at 680 metres (2231 feet) at the Arctic Circle Centre in the heart of Saltfjellet. They will soon find themselves at high speeds, going downhill into Saltdalen. A steep climb leads north-west out of Saltdalen up to the top of the 542-metre (1778-feet) high mountain pass of Ljøsenhammeren. From here, there is a steep downhill stretch to the Misværfjord with a couple of smaller climbs along the way. As the finish line draws closer, there is a return to the Saltstraumen strait and its foaming eddies before the pack makes its way through the residential streets of the flat Bodø peninsula and on to the finish line in the heart of Bodø.