German sprinter John Degenkolb finishes second behind Alexander Kristoff on stage one of Arctic Tour of Norway

Giant-Alpecin‘s John Degenkolb’s return to his pre-eminence continued on Thursday as he claimed his first top-three finish in 2016 by finishing second on stage one of the Arctic Tour of Norway, behind winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

Degenkolb was one of six Giant-Alpecin riders injured in a January training crash near Calpe, Spain and didn’t begin his season until May.

The 2015 Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix winner completed the Tour de France, placing fourth on two stages, and on the opening stage of the Arctic Tour he sprinted to second; Sky’s Danny van Poppel, winner of two stages in last week’s Vuelta a Burgos, was third.

The last time Degenkolb featured in the top three of a race was when he won the final stage of last year’s Vuelta a España. 

While the result is another positive step in Degenkolb’s long return to form, it is also a boost for Kristoff who failed to win a stage at the Tour and whose last victory was in May’s Amgen Tour of California.

It was the fourth stage that Kristoff has taken in the race that is now in its fourth edition, having won a stage last year and two in 2014.

The Arctic Tour of Norway, in its fourth edition, finishes on Sunday with stages tailored towards a sprint on stage two and four. Sky’s Ben Swift and Andy Fenn are Britain’s best chances of a stage win, although One Pro Cycling could pull off a surprise win with either Kristian House or Chris Opie.