Tour of Fjords & Hammer Stravangar
It was my first time in Norway, so I was excited to pin a number on for the Tour of Fjords – a three-day stage race on the Southern coast. The few things that initially pop into my mind when I hear the word Norway are Salmon, Northern Lights, and a prolific national flag. (Did you see the flags during the World Championships in Bergen last year?) Unfortunately, Salmon was never once served on the buffet menu and I didn’t see any Northern Lights. The sun never seems to set here, and a good eye mask would be one of my recommendations if you’re a light sleeper! The standard of living is very high, similar to Switzerland, with Norway often ranked in top 10 most expensive countries in the world. It seems that whenever I travel to a wealthier country, there’s a greater frequency of Audi’s spotted on the roads… and it makes me miss driving the S3 around!
Anyway, we were in Norway for bike racing, not a holiday. Tour of Fjords was only a three-stage race but it was very solid! (I feel like I say this about every single race I’ve done since 2017) We covered 595km in just under 15 hours with TSS of 271, 267 and 326 respectively for stages 1, 2 and 3. We were a little bit unlucky with how things unfolded. Sep Vanmarke was involved in a crash during the stage 1 sprint finish, and Matti Breschel was involved in a crash in the final km of stage 2. The terrain and finishes were better suited to strong sprinters who can get over short climbs, and so we lost chances of good results in this race as a result. I finished the final stage in 27th and 31st overall for the three days. There’s really not a whole lot to add here!
Following on from Fjords was the Hammer Series in Stravanger, which is run by Velon and has a very different structure than a standard road race. If you’re unfamiliar with this race, you can learn more about it here:
So the first person across the line isn’t deemed the winner, instead, the focus is on the team as a whole and how many points you accumulate throughout the stage. Points are offered to the first 10 riders across the line each lap, with bonus points on laps 3, 6 and 10 of a 10 lap circuit. So the more riders you have up the front of the race throughout the entire stage, the more points you could potentially win. There are incentives to race aggressively, and over shorter distances, it made for intense racing and interesting strategies.
Run over three days with Hammer Climb (a hilly circuit), Hammer Sprint (flat circuit) and then Hammer Chase (TTT course) meant there was a little bit of everything crammed into the three-day event. There’s also the ability to sub riders in or out for different days. I participated in the Hammer Climb, was subbed out for the Hammer Sprint, and then participated again in the Hammer Chase.
The Hammer Climb was INTENSE! The first time up the climb I produced a second-best 1 minute power, which pretty much feels like a sprint, but was still way back in the bunch as riders were pinging off the front. Groups formed up the road and we weren’t involved, and as a result, the team didn’t pick up many points. By Lap 7 I managed to bridge across to the front few riders and collect some points, before blowing up. For the data enthusiasts, we raced for 1 hour and 55 minutes, and I had an average power output of 259 watts, with 334 normalized power.
The TTT was 48km long but only took 57 minutes to complete, with an average speed of 50km/h. Mitchelton-Scott smashed the TTT with an average speed of just under 54km/h with some big engines!!! It’s pretty crazy to think about that, especially when speed limits in many parts of Australia are 60km/h. There’s a TTT in the upcoming Criterium de Dauphiné, which is my next race. Hopefully, some of this racing and extra level of intensity that the Hammer Series provided will be beneficial.
I’ll find out soon enough, as we leave for Saturday to France!
Thanks for reading,