Stage 1: Balestrand - Forde (189,9 km)
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The stage in brief
For the very first time, Tour des Fjords will visit the county of Sogn og Fjordane. The first stages starts in Balestrand, deep inside the mighty Sognefjord. The course heads North along the shores of the fjord and onto the national tourist route until it hits the race’s first categorized climb. Gaularfjellet, eleven kilometers long with an average grade of 7% and at 763 meters the highest point of this year’s Tour des Fjords, awaits the peloton just 30 kilometers into the race. Soon after that, the next climb to Rørvikfjellet is on the menu. After a quick descent on to the E39 motorway follows, one flat loop around Jølstravatnet awaits the riders and eventually leads the peloton to the center of Førde, the largest town in Sogn og Fjordane county. After two laps with 10 kilometers length each we get to know the first bearer of the yellow Uno-X jersey.The total length of this stage 189,9 kilometers, which makes it the longest stage in this year’s Tour des Fjords.
Categorized climbs: Gaularfjellet (Cat. 1), Rørviksfjellet (Cat. 2)
Alexander Kristoff from Stavanger, pro cyclist at Team Katusha and two times winner of Tour des Fjords:
"It's exciting to start the race in a new corner of Western Norway. This first stage won't be too decisive because the tough climbs come very early in the stage. I would expect a larger group arriving at the finish in Førde together sprinting for the victory."
Highlights along the stage
The start of Tour des Fjords 2017 does not fall short of highlights. At 194 kilometers, it is the longest one this year, and it also crosses the highest point of this year’s course at Gaularfjellet (720 meters). The majestic Sognefjord is an impressive backdrop for this year’s kick-off. It is not only the longest (205 km), but also the deepest (1.308 m) fjord in Norway.
Lying on the shores of the fjord, the municipality of Balestrand with its 1.300 inhabitants hosts the start of a Tour des Fjords stage for the very first time. Balestrand is amongst others known for Kviknes Hotell with its special atmosphere and style, one of the hotels with the longest tradition in Norway, as well as for St. Olaf’s church, or ”Engelskkyrkja” (“English church”), from 1897. The church is Anglican and built in the style of a Norwegian stave church. In summertime, English priests come here to hold the services.
On the way to Førde, the race will pass by Jølster and idyllic Astruptunet, the workshop of famous Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), who lived and worked here in his late years until his death. Today, it is used as a gallery and a museum and is maintained as it was back in Astrup’s time.
The first stage finishes in Førde, local center of Sogn og Fjordane county and with its surrounding nature and waterfalls also center for summer tourism and outdoor activities in the area.
Where to watch
- TV2 broadcasts the race live from 15:30 to 18:30
- Shuttle buses are running to Gaularfjellet (from Førde and Sande) and Rørvikfjellet (from Førde, Sande, Høyanger, Balestrand, Dragsvik and Sogndal)
- Start in Balestrand at 13:20, first passage in Førde at about 17:15, finish at about 18:00
- Estimated passages (42 km/h): Gaularfjellet 14:16, Viksdalen 14:51, Rørvikfjellet 15:13, Vassenden 15:47, Skei 16:19, Førde 17:21
- For more information on the programme, check here
More information about the first stage can also be found on www.tdfsognogfjordane.no