Kristen Faulkner takes an impressive solo win at the Ladies Tour of Norway

The American rider was the last of the day’s breakaway, attacking it with 22km to go and holding on by the slimmest of margins

Kristen Faulkner wins stage one of the Ladies Tour of Norway
(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Kristen Faulkner took a hugely impressive solo win in the opening stage of the Ladies Tour of Norway on Thursday. 

The American had been part of the day's breakaway which led onto the closing circuits around the southern Norwegian town of Sarpsborg.

When fellow escapee, Isle of Man rider Anna Christian attacked with 22km remaining the Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank rider countered and took and maintained her lead to the line.

Though her lead had been as much as one minute inside the final 10km she took the narrowest of leads onto the final uphill kilometre and held off the charging peloton to take the first WorldTour win of her career.

After a late crash had disrupted the chase, taking out her leader Coryn Rivera, home rider Susanne Andersen (DSM) won the sprint for second place, with British champion Alice Barnes taking a close third for Canyon-SRAM.

Faulkner has only been in the sport since last season, having had a career in banking, and took an impressive win in the Tour de l'Ardeche in 2020 and a number of other impressive performances, but Thursday's victory was a vindication for someone who has shown real talent. 

How it happened

In its last year after organisers created the six-day Battle of the North for 2022, the Ladies Tour of Norway have not stood still, introducing the race’s first mountain top finish for stage three. For the opening day however, the race stuck to its tried and tested formula of punchy racing, starting in the race’s hometown of Hladen, on the Swedish border, and finishing 141.5km in Sarpsborg.

With multiple winner Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) not present to defend her 2019 victory, the day was set to take on a different, and slightly more open complexion.

However, Thursday’s stage began quietly, the peloton staying together for the opening 20km though at high pace. However, immediately after the day’s first intermediate sprint, after 32km a flurry of attacks produced a group of five escapees who quickly built a lead. 

Natalie van Gogh (Bingoal-Chevalmeire), Tiril Jorgensen (Norway), Nina Buysman (Parkhotel-Valkenburg), Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) and Isle of Man rider Anna Christian (Drops-Le Col p/b Tempur) worked well together establishing a lead of 2-20 as they rolled up and down through forests, arable fields and rocky outcrops on near perfect tarmac.

The gap increased briefly after a large crash in the peloton, but the break was kept well within reach as Ann Olsen (Coop-Hitec Products) tried unsuccessfully to bridge to the leaders. However, when she was caught her team mate Amalie Lutro also tired to open a gap.

However, as the kilometres wore away the bunch sprung into action, taking chunks out of the leaders’ advantage as they headed towards the coastal finish town for three frantic finishing circuits of 6.7km.

On the approach though, the peloton toyed with the leaders allowing the gap to go back out before regaining control, Jumbo-Visma and DSM doing much of the work. Just as they entered the final 25km cooperation at the front died as Drops-Le Col came to the front.

Just before the finish line Christian attacked the leading group, but was caught by Faulkner, the American taking the lead and crossing the finish line into the final 20km with a lead of around 25 seconds on the peloton.

Next time round though Faulkner’s lead was at 60 seconds, and with only 12km to go the catch was uncertain. Even when Christian was caught shortly afterwards it was only as the peloton’s operation began to wane.

Faulkner crossed the line for the final time, 6.7km from the finish she took a lead of only 25 seconds onto the undulating last lap, but managed to hold off the chase, despite a concerted effort from Alé-BTC Ljubljana’s Olympic time trial silver medalist Marlen Reusser. 

>>> Remco Evenepoel laps peloton on his way to stunning victory in Tour of Denmark

Friday’s second stage sees the race wind through the Norwegian lowlands south of Oslo between Aksim and Mysen where a bunch kick is on the books.

Results

Ladies Tour of Norway, stage one: Halden - Sarpsborg (141.5km)

1. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, in 3-38-15
2. Susanne Andersen (Nor) DSM
3. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
5. Femke Markus (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 
6. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar
8. Roxanne Fournier (Fra) SDWorx
9. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar 
10. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing, all at same time 

General classification after stage one

1. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank 3-38-05
2. Susanne Andersen (Nor) DSM, at 4s
3. Alice Barnes (Gbr) Canyon-SRAM, at 6s
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, at 10s
5. Femke Markus (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg 
6. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar
8. Roxanne Fournier (Fra) SDWorx
9. Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Movistar 
10. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Liv Racing, all at same time