- I am so happy with this victory! It is an amazing feeling to fight until the last meter and to win! I had a huge support from my team, and I want to thank all teammates for this week and for this victory! It is our team’s success! Yesterday we had a super hard stage and the final climb did not suit me really well, but I knew that today’s profile would suit me much better. So, I was motivated to do something, and I succeed. I knew I had to attack on the local laps, and I did my best. I attacked for many times, but every time Barguil was on my wheel. He did a great race too. It was hard to drop him on the last climb, so I put everything on the final sprint and this tactic worked out very well. This is my first win this season in the jersey of the Kazakh champion and I am really happy to bring this victory to my country in the Day of Sports in Kazakhstan. Also, I am happy to bring the 11th overall victory to Astana Pro Team and to our main sponsor Samruk-Kazyna. As I know this is a record-breaking achievement for our team, - said Alexey Lutsenko.
- We came out to the start of the stage with a clear goal to fight for the overall victory. We knew we have a strong team to do it. Indeed, we did not have the best start of the stage as Barguil won 2 seconds on the intermediate sprint, but we continued working for Alexey as we knew he is in a great shape and is able to fight for the win. The general classification was our main goal, but of course, we wanted to try to win this stage as well. The team worked well protecting Alexey and chasing the break. In the final we still had Hugo Houle, who was pushing in front for Lutsenko, trying to neutralize all attacks. Yeah, in the end of the day we missed the stage, but anyway we are super happy with the way we spent this day and with our Kazakh champion, who proved once again he is the true leader of the team. It was a nice week for Astana here in Norway and we hope, the team will continue moving on this winning way at the Vuelta a España, - said Dmitriy Fofonov, sports manager of Astana Pro Team.
The last 4th stage of the race (165.5 km from Lødingen to Narvik) was full of action and drama. After yesterday’s queen stage the French rider Warren Barguil had a 3-second advantage on Alexey Lutsenko. Quite shortly after start of the final stage Barguil was able to win 2 more bonus seconds, increasing his advantage to 5 seconds.
However, Astana Pro Team did not give up and quickly took the situation in the race under its control. Yuriy Natarov, Daniil Fominykh and Jonas Gregaard Wilsly started working hard in the peloton, chasing the break of the day. Later, Magnus Cort and Hugo Houle increased the pressure on the leader’s team with a few attacks. Inside the final laps Alexey Lutsenko tried to animate the race and to do a selection in the main group. At the last intermediate sprint the Kazakh champion outsprinted Barguil, taking 3 bonus seconds, while the Frenchman took just 2. It still was not enough to win the race, but the Astana leader continued pushing hard fighting for every second. Lutsenko attacked again inside the last few kilometers of the race, but he was caught back by the rivals. In the next moment it was the Norwegian rider Markus Hoelgaard, who went away clear to win the final stage. Another Norwegian Amund Grondahl Jansen finished second, while Alexey Lutsenko did a phenomenal long and powerful sprint, taking the 3rd place and winning 5 more seconds on Warren Barguil, who finished 4th. This incredible finish brought the Astana rider the final overall win.
Thus, the final podium of the 2019 Arctic Race of Norway is: 1. Alexey Lutsenko, 2. Warren Barguil. 3. Krists Neilands. Another Astana rider Hugo Houle finished fifth.
Besides this, Alexey Lutsenko won the point classification, while Astana won the final team’s classification of the race.
Photo credit: © Arctic Race of Norway/Pauline Ballet