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Alexander Kristoff: 'I was lucky at the 2015 Tour of Flanders'

Joe Robinson
23 Mar 2018

The Norwegian hopes to have a good weekend of racing at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem ahead of the Tour of Flanders

Alexander Kristoff will head in to today's E3-Harelbeke striving for victory but under no illusions as to what is the bigger prize, the Tour of Flanders. The European road race champion has got off to a fair start this season with stage victories at the Tour of Oman and Abu Dhabi Tour before picking up fourth behind Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) at last Saturday's Milan-San Remo.

However he realises a tough weekend of racing at E3 on Friday followed by Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday is just what is needed to prepare for the Tour of Flanders the following weekend.

'I will be racing to win but also to get good legs for Flanders. In some ways E3 is harder than Flanders because there are the same climbs but within a shorter distance,' Kristoff told Cyclist

'In the past I have not been able to follow the best wheels but I need to this year as it gets you the best legs for Flanders.'

This tough weekend of back-to-back racing may be necessary for the fast-finishing Norwegian. Kristoff started his season in the Middle East racing the Dubai Tour followed by the Tour of Oman and Abu Dhabi Tour in a hope that these 16 days of racing would get him in to fighting shape.

However with a lack of wind and pan flat parcour, Kristoff admits this decision backfired with the racing ultimately being 'easy'.

'I am not sure it worked. Dubai and Abu Dhabi were not very hard so I didn't get a chance to empty the tank,' he said.

'There were some good days in Oman as it is hillier but overall it did not work for me. Next year I will probably go for a different approach.'

Due to victory at Flanders in 2015, the Norwegian is often touted as one of the pre-race favourites at the Belgian Monument, which comes as somewhat of a suprise to the rider. 

In 2015, Kristoff managed to follow the attack of Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) with 30km remaining. Both riders worked well holding a 30 second gap until the line with the former taking the sprint with ease. 

While he appreciates his victory in 2015 was down to hard work and good form, he cannot deny that he was also very lucky that day.

'In 2015 I was lucky. Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara were out with injury so the level at the race was not so high,' he said.

'I have only actually fought for victory once and I took it. On other occasions I have finished in the top five but this hasn't been in the winning group.' 

While Kristoff was keen to play down his chances of repeat success at Flanders he was willing to reveal the best scenario for him to take victory.

While not among the top tier of sprinters, the Norwegian has taken many bunch sprints, reguarly outsprinting fellow Classics men such as John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). 

For him, winning would not be something done alone but with a small group at the line. 

'I always back my sprint but I need to be aware during Flanders. It is never a big group at the finish so I must follow the best wheels and maybe even attack myself before the finish.'

Later this season Kristoff will be riding in the inaugural Stavanger Hammer Series, the Norwegian's hometown.

To find out more about Hammer Series and where you can watch all the action, visit www.hammerseries.com