Sunshine coast, scenery and Skagerrak - This is the first stage from Lindesnes to Grimstad


Sunshine coast, scenery and Skagerrak - This is the first stage from Lindesnes to Grimstad

Christmas is coming and we wish for nothing more than Tour des Fjords to be back. A good opportunity to have a closer look on next year’s course - even if it is just a bit less than six months until the start. Today we are presenting the first stage from Lindesnes to Grimstad – a Christmas present for sprinters.

Tour des Fjords i 2018 will be arranged from May 22nd to 24th and is shortened to only three stages. This means that the race can be won or lost every day. The favorites have nowhere to hide and no incentive to hold back. In addition, the course fits many different types of riders and teams which will ensure a wide circle of favorites.

For the first time, Tour des Fjords will visit the Southern coast of Norway. Listerfondet, Lindestesfondet, Vest-Agder county and the municipality of Kristiansand have joined forces to get Tour de Fjords to Vest-Agder. Those four are the main financial backers. The municipalities of Farsund, Flekkefjord, Lindesnes, Kristiansand, Mandal and Lyngdal have agreed to contribute as host towns in 2018 and also in 2020 when the race is set to return to Southern Norway.

Starting at Norway’s Southernmost point

The first of the three stages in 2018 starts on Tuesday, May 22, in Lindesnes and leads over 189 kilometers to Grimstad, home town of the Norwegian Tour de France-heroes Thor Hushovd and Dag Otto Lauritzen.

The start takes place at Lindesnes fyr, Norway’s oldest lighthouse that was first put into service in 1656. Passing Spangereid, an old center of power from the Viking era, the stage first leads to Vigeland. The sculptor behind the famous Vigelandsparken in Oslo, Gustav Vigeland, spent large parts of his childhood here, and the town is home to a museum were 65 of his carvings and five sketches in plaster can be seen. Via the motorway E39 the race after 43 kilometers arrives at the beautiful cost town of Mandal with its over 700 nice, white houses that are so typical for Southern Norway.

After leaving Mandal, the cyclists will come to Ålo and Trysnesfjord which spans six kilometers into the mainland in the municipality of Søgne. From the 1770ies to 1923 there was a cable ferry for crossing the fjord, which is still active some days during summertime. Søgne is known for it’s beautiful archipelago with not less than 1.229 islands. The rolling terrain along the beautiful coastline will offer an opportunity for riders to break away from the bunch and try their luck against the teams of the sprinters.

Following the tracks of Setesdalsbanen

After 105 kilometers, the race passes Southern Norways main center, Kristiansand, which will host the finish of stage 2. The race turns North on Riksvei 9 and passes Hannevika, home base of companies like Myren Gård, Henning Olsen ice cream and the Glencore nickel plant. The race will enter Setesdalen valley to Torridal, Mosby and Vennesla. The Otra river flows through central parts of Vennesla municipality on its way from Setesdal to Kristiansand. The river is the foundation for the considerable logging export business. The big tourist attraction in Vennesla is the Setesdalsbanen, a narrow-gauge railway with over 100 years old locomotives and coaches.

Finish for the sprints in Hushovd’s home town

Tour des Fjords will then leave Vest-Agder county and for the first time in it’s history enter Aust-Agder. After 125 kilometers the only topographical challenge of the day is waiting: A four kilometer long climb with 3% gradient. The bunch will then rush down to Birkeland and is again Southbound back to the coast. After 155 kilometers the course is back on the coastal road at Lillesand, a town situated in the best known part of the archipelago of Skagerrak. Finally, the riders arrive at Grimstand where two local circuits are waiting. Grimstad is the home town of two Norwegian cycling heroes, Dag Otto Lauritzen (Tour de France stage winner 1987, Olympic bronze medalist 1984) and Thor Hushovd (ten Tour de France stage wins, two times winner of the Tour de France green jersey, world champion 2010). In this town, the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen spent his youth and wrote is first plays. Another major Norwegian writer, Knut Hamsun, lived the last years of his live here. The Ibsen museum in Grimstad is the oldest in the country and contains the pharmacy where Ibsen lived and worked.

After 189 kilometer the first stage will most likely end in Grimstad with a bunch sprint.

Tour des Fjords is looking forward to the start in beautiful Southern Norway!