Quick-Step Floors to Tour des Fjords and Hammer Stavanger
Ronde van Vlaanderen victor Niki Terpstra will kick off the second part of his season in Norway.
The Tour des Fjords return for its 11th edition, one that will debut with a 202km stage from Lindesnes to Grimstad which on paper should end up in a bunch sprint, although the last kilometer features a 400m section averaging 5.5% that could make things interesting. Stage 2 shouldn't pose any problem to sprinters, with the final leg of the event being an up-and-down affair from the start of the day, which is set to culminate with an 800m-long climb kicking out at 9% after the flamme rouge.
For Quick-Step Floors, this will be the first outing at the Tour des Fjords, where our team will rely on Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns, Nokere Koerse and Scheldeprijs winner Fabio Jakobsen, fellow neo-pro James Knox, Davide Martinelli and Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Niki Terpstra.
"We haven't raced here before, but we hope it will be a nice experience, although the course is a demanding one, always up and down on twisty roads. It's difficult to predict what will happen, because the stages can very well go to sprinters, puncheurs or even a breakaway, but we have some guys who can be there regardless of the scenario, so we are quite confident", said sports director Tom Steels.
Less than 24 hours later, the same squad together with Kasper Asgreen – who last week has been part of Fernando Gaviria's lead-out train at the Tour of California – will line out for the inaugural Hammer Stavanger, first Hammer Series appointment of the season and an event made up of three race days – the Hammer Climb, the Hammer Sprint and the Hammer Chase – which will pit five-man teams against each other to determine the best squad. The first race will take place over a climbing course, the second will give the fast men of the peloton the chance to help their outfits, while the third and final one will consist of a team time trial in which the start order will be based by the points accumulated over the previous days.
"It is a completely different race than what we are used to, but I like this concept, because it brings something new. You get some very spectacular racing as everybody is going full gas from the start. For these races you need to be present in all the moments, which is why guys like Knox, who can handle a climb, and Fabio and Niki, who can take points on the flat, are important before the TTT", explained Tom Steels.
All three races taking place this year will be streamed live on social media, meaning fans anywhere in the world will be able to watch the Hammer Series on any device and without being charged for access.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images