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Bike races come in many different shapes and sizes, and are put on for many different reasons. You have events which have existed for almost as long as the sport of cycling itself - the monuments, the Grand Tours - continue because they have always done so, because they are so integral to the season, such iconic events.
Then you have the races which are, in effect, warmup races to these: the Critérium du Dauphiné for the Tour de France or Dwars door Vlaanderen for the Tour of Flanders. Of course, these are fantastic races in their own right, but this is their place in the calendar.
Beyond this, there are races that exist in their own eco-system, events which do not run onto others, or have the history or prestige. This could be because they're new, and so haven't quite found the place or worth in the congested calendar, or, alternatively, could be separate because they aren't really supposed to fit in with the rest.
This is where tourist races come into play, races which are designed to show off a country to the outside world above everything else. These are still races that matter, have results, carry UCI points and the rest, but for the organisers, the point is to make people want to visit; to see the scenery on television and think "oo, let's go on a trip there".
The race that fills this space possibly more than any other is the Arctic Race of Norway, the race at the top of the world. Its position in the calendar means it struggles to attract the top riders and teams, especially this year, sandwiched between the World Championships and the Vuelta a España.
However, it is beautiful. The race went as far north as it is practically able to do this year, to Nordkapp, right at the top of Norway, right at the top of Europe. The next stop north of there is Svalbard, and the Arctic itself.
The endless northern scenery is worth looking at, and one can only imagine how incredible it is to cycle through such landscapes. It looks very fresh. Even in August, and racing, we're sure that the riders were wrapped up.
Israel-Premier Tech's Stevie Williams won the race, incidentally, after winning a punchy stage three, but let's just let these pictures speak for themselves. Take a look at pro cycling's most beautiful race.
All of these photos are by Aurélien Vialatte for ASO, so chapeau to him.
The clouds look ominous, but the colours in this photo stand out so much, from the dark red of the moss to the azure of the sea.
The bunch huddles tight together from the Arctic elements, but the rock formation is the thing that stands out here.
Doesn't the sea look inviting? I'm not sure it would be particularly warm in there, though.
From the beautiful coast to seemingly endless forests, Norway has it all.
A great bridge across a fjord here, a lovely bit of civil engineering.
More rocks, more edge of the world vibes. It feels very Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings up here, doesn't it?
So calm, so peaceful.
This could be Scotland or the North Yorkshire Moors, but it's even further north than that. Rugged is the word.
Another suspension bridge, this time with a breakaway.
Rocks, gorse, heather.
The way the light falls on the rocks in the background here is a dream; Norway is a photographer's dream.
I don't know the technical term for this rock formation - I'm no geologist - but it is very intriguing.
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Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.
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