Leigh Howard wins the first stage of the Tour des Fjords, but the day wasn't without its mishaps as organisational problems plagued the race
The first stage of the Tour des Fjords descended into shambles on Wednesday, when a wrong turn by a motorbike sent several riders the wrong way and later they had to deal with traffic on the route.
Having passed through a tunnel at the 129km mark of the 146km race, a race motorbike proceeded straight forward, before stopping having realised his mistake. The majority of the peloton stopped and turned round with the moto, but three riders, including stage winner Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) carried on.
According to Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) the three riders “took a short cut to the right and immediately had 30 seconds on us.”
“To be honest, I expected the commissaire to neutralise the race,” said Howard. “But he didn’t, and you don’t stop just to stop. We had an advantage and we took it, but it’s strange.”
He added: “It is understandable there would be some angry riders. I’m happy, but it takes away some of the feeling as it’s not the same to win like that.”
Kristoff explained the situation: “I won the intermediate sprint and there was no breakaway in front of us. We came to a tunnel and the motorbike in front of us went straight, then he stopped because he had gone the wrong way.
“We turned around and I thought there would be a re-start, because we had been taken the wrong way through the tunnel and we were all together so it would be easy to do. But some went through the tunnel and took a short cut to the right and immediately had 30-seconds on us.
“To me this is a disappointing situation. I cannot believe we did not re-start all together, because that’s how we were when the mistake was made. There were no signs, no cars, noone showing us which way to go.”
Race director Roy Hegreberg admitted that 200 people had been promised to the race to control traffic, but only 175 people were provided, leading to the cars on the route inside the final three kilometres.
Bergen is set to host the 2017 World Championships, but these incidents will do little to instil confidence in the organisation.