Just after 11 o’clock on 11th of August 2022, in Fridtjof Nansens gate in the center of Mo i Rana, the ninth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway (ARN) started. The start of a four-day road race by bike, with Helgeland’s magical nature as arena and backdrop during the race’s first two days.
The first stage both started and ended at Mo i Rana, and with its 186.8 kilometers was the tour’s longest. Rana mayor Geir Waage had the honor of flagging the participants off, out of the city centre and south along the E6. After turning around in Elsfjord and passing Korgfjellet twice, the 100 cyclists returned to the centre. Here the riders were cheered on by the local population, who made sure to give the athletes the support they deserved and offer television viewers in nearly 200 countries positive impressions of both the city, the people and public life. When Axel Zingle sprinted to win the opening stage, there were a few thousand Ranværinger who cheered the Frenchman up the hill at Sagbakken and over the finish line at Langmoheia.
Six years since last time
This was the second time that Mo i Rana hosted the Arctic Race of Norway. In 2016, the city was the venue for the start of the second stage. In this sense, it can be said that this time the city and municipality were even better prepared for what is required to be a good host and supplier of a flawless event.
And Mo i Rana delivered once again. The municipality and other actors interacted closely with ARN. And – not least – close to two hundred volunteers helped too stand guard along the roads, in the streets and in the squares.
More than a bike race
An event like ARN also offers the opportunity to create something more than just a sports event. Or as Mayor Waage put it on the opening day, before he flagged the riders off and a few hours later rang the bell to mark that there was one lap left around the city centre:
– The Arctic Race of Norway is much more than a bicycle race. It is also a tool for the development and promotion of our region, and we want to use that for what it is worth.
And Mo i Rana knew how to make use of this opportunity:
In addition to the bicycle race for the pros, a mini-race was kicked off in the city streets for the young ones.
The day before the start of the race, Bufetat and with help from local actors, organized a great family event.
In the days before the race, some of the city’s facades received an aesthetic boost through a collaboration on the project Street Art Mo i Rana – an art project led by Rana Utvikling. Businesses and property owners made facades available as canvases, and the artists used the surfaces to tell Mo i Rana’s story through art. The project not only gave some of the television pictures a visual boost during the race, but has a lasting value that did not roll on with the rest of the cycling circus when it left town. One of the surfaces used as a canvas is the Vika band; Norway’s longest building which is an industrial cultural institution that still has an important function for the Rana industry.
Business operators and others took their products out to stalls in the city streets and created a square atmosphere in the city centre.
The municipality invited to a folk festival at Nytorget, with concerts where both local and national artists provided musical experiences for young and old alike. The highlight for the youngest was undoubtedly the Melodi Grand Prix heroes Subwoolfer, but the menu was varied enough that the mini- folk festival was also to the liking of the adult part of the audience.
The world’s most beautiful road race
The Arctic Race of Norway is a road bike race over four days, which has been organized annually since its inception in 2013. With the fantastic nature of Northern Norway (and this year also a slice of Trøndelag) as an arena, ARN has also been described as the world’s most beautiful road race. And one of the race’s founders and general manager of the Arctic Race of Norway, Knut Eirik Dybdal, was very pleased when the ninth edition of ARN rolled to the finish line in Trondheim, three days after the starting shot went off in Mo i Rana.
– We have had good cooperation with everyone from the beginning. We take our hats off to the way we have been received. I think we must be able to say that this is one of the best editions of the Arctic Race of Norway so far, said Dybdal afterwards.
Video: Arctic Race of Norway
ARN got this year’s winner on the bike
The Arctic Race of Norway is also highly regarded by the participants. In 2013 – the first year ARN was held, Thor Einar Hushovd won. He is now, together with Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, one of ARN’s leading ambassadors. And this year’s overall winner, Andreas Leknessund from Tromsø, told the international production company that sent the TV images out to a hundred countries, that the Arctic Race of Norway was one of the things that made him invest in cycling.
– I have watched the Arctic Race since I was a child. The race is perhaps one of the reasons why I chose to invest in cycling, and now I am sitting as the winner. It’s absolutely wild, said Leknessund, when the overall victory was secured.
The world’s northernmost
The Arctic Race of Norway, which is the world’s northernmost international cycling stage race, is organized in collaboration with Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), which also organizes races such as the Tour of France and Paris–Roubaix.
The Arctic Race of Norway was from the start part of the UCI Europe Tour, but starting with the 2020 edition, the race was part of the UCI ProSeries.
The event has developed into the largest cycling event in Scandinavia, and one of Norway’s most important sports events. ARN attracts teams from the Tour de France and some of the cycling world’s biggest stars.
ARN is free to experience, accessible and inclusive. The event does not require any demanding infrastructure or facilities; the world’s most beautiful stadium is used in the Arctic Race of Norway – the strikingly beautiful roads and the wild, beautiful landscape and nature these roads weave through in Northern Norway.