Mathieu van der Poel has lost his leader's jersey in the Arctic Race of Norway on Saturday. The leader of Corendon-Circus fell behind the finish line after a very tough final climb in the third stage.
The 24-year-old Van der Poel lost almost a minute and a half to the Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking, who was the first to climb the Storheia Summit. This climb was only 3.5 kilometers long, but had an average increase of no less than 11.8 percent.
Van der Poel soon had to leave a gap on the heavy final climb and saw the leading group drive further and further away. He finally crossed the finish line in 1 minute and 22 seconds from the stage winner.
Afterwards Van der Poel indicated that he was sick. "I fell ill last night and felt very bad on my bike because of that. My nose was closed and I had a lot of problems with my head. I was also sick," he told De Telegraaf . He does not yet know whether he will start on Sunday in the final stage.
Eiking, who won a stage in the Tour of Wallonia earlier this year, kept French champion Warren Barguil behind for five seconds. The Kazak Alexey Lutsenko finished third in thirteen seconds. Tom-Jelte Slagter admitted 32 seconds and was the best Dutchman in seventh place.
Barguil takes over the leader's jersey from Van der Poel, who drops to seventeenth place and is more than a minute behind. Lutsenko is second at three seconds from the Frenchman and the Let Krists Neilands occupies fifteen seconds in third place in the general classification.
An incredible final attack from @Oddeiking saw him seize victory from the wheels of the other favorites! ElRelive it with the Last Kilometer! #ArcticRaceAvatar
For the app users: click on the tweet to view the images of the difficult final kilometer.
Van der Poel won the opening stage in Norway
On Thursday Van der Poel sprinted to victory in the opening stage of the Arctic Race. A day later, the cyclocross world champion in the mass sprint was overtaken by the Frenchman Bryan Coquard, but he kept his leader's jersey.
Van der Poel makes his comeback on the road in Norway after he impressed with a win of the Amstel Gold Race in April. He focuses on stage victories and prepares for the World Cup on the end of September in Yorkshire. Earlier this week, he indicated that he would not go for the rankings.
Van der Poel has been active on mountain bike in recent months and has had considerable success. He won three world cup competitions, including Sunday's race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
The Arctic Race of Norway, which is not part of the WorldTour, will end on Sunday with a hilly stage. In the final the riders must conquer three climbs of the first category.
See also: The cycling calendar of 2019