Mathieu van der Poel won the first stage of the Arctic Race of Norway on Thursday. The Corendon-Circus rider sprinted convincingly to the win.

In the 181-kilometer ride between Å i Lofoten and Leknes, which included three climbs of the second category, 24-year-old Van der Poel was the strongest of a thinned peloton. Danny van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma) came in second.

Dimension Data's Steve Cummings seemed to be on his way to victory in the final kilometers, but he was caught shortly before the finish. No one subsequently had an answer to the sprint of Van der Poel, who is automatically the leader in the classification.

The Dutchman is making his comeback on the road in Norway since he impressed in April with a win from the Amstel Gold Race. He focuses on stage victories and works towards the World Cup on the end of September in Yorkshire.

Last year Van der Poel won two stages in Norway, where he eventually finished in 14th place. The final victory was after four days for the Russian Sergey Chernetskiy of Astana.

The Arctic Race of Norway, which is not part of the WorldTour, will continue on Friday with an almost flat stage of 164 kilometers, starting in Henningsvaer and finishing in Svolvaer.