"When we heard that the Arctic Race of Norway was going to pass through our camp, we wanted to give them a special welcome," Lieutenant Colonel Pal Berglund, the battalion commander for Brigade North, told The Local. "The main battle tank is the most important vehicle in the Norwegian Army. We wanted to give them a warm welcome and to ride with them while they were in our camp."
According to Lieutenant Colonel Aleksander Jankov, spokesperson for the Norwegian Army, the cyclists had been given very little warning of what would meet the on the route.
"The cyclists knew they were passing through an army garrison at Setermoen and that they would be welcomed by soldiers of Brigade North," he said. "They probably did not expect a moving tank alongside the peloton."
Stephen Clancy, an Irish cyclist with the Novo Nordisk team of diabetic riders, was blown away by the experience.
Today I got drag raced by an army tank during a bike race. He won. I love you Norway!!! #epic— Stephen Clancy (@Clancy_Stephen) August 14, 2015
“They were absolutely ecstatic. They had lot of fun the whole day, receiving the professional cyclists from all over the world and welcoming them into their garrison. We had soldiers down the whole route — hundreds of soldiers were lined up for the peloton.”
He said that the four battalions had also lined up more tanks, as well as other military and medical equipment along the cyclists’ route.
The second stage was won by Sam Bennett from the Bora-Argon 18 team, who beat Frederico Zurlo from the UnitedHealthcare squad in second place, and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff from the Katusha team in third.
The Astana Pro team, fronted by Estonia's Rein Taaramäe, was the overall winner of the Arctic Race, after the third stage was finished on Sunday.