Norwegian Sven Erik Bystrom is aiming high in 2017 with Katusha-Alpecin as the former U23 World Champion has set himself the goals of helping Alexander Kristoff to success in the classics, a debut Tour de France appearance, and selection on home soil for the Bergen Worlds.
"For me, the classics is all about helping Kristoff to win the big races so hopefully I can be there for him. Of course, there can be the possibility for my own chances also in there but mostly I am there for Kristoff," Bystrom told Cyclingnews at the Tour Down Under where he made his racing debut on Australian soil.
"I am on the list of the Tour this year so I hope to do this and supporting Alex also. That is my goal," added Bystrom who made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana last year.
A solo winner at the 2014 Worlds in the U23 category, Bystrom has been selected for the elite Worlds since turning professional with Katusha in 2015. The 25-year-old was a DNF in Richmond but made the selection at last year's Doha Worlds where he and Truls Engen Korsaeth were key domestiques for Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen who both finished top-ten.
With Norway hosting the Worlds for the first time since 1993, Bystrom is excited by the prospect of racing the premier event on home soil and with a team that is capable of challenging for a rainbow jersey.
"The world championships in Bergen is a big goal for me and I think all the Norwegian riders so I also hope to be in really big shape for this race and get selected for the Norway team," he said. "The last couple of word championships we have always been in the top-ten with some riders. We have Kristoff, we have Boasson Hagen and we also have some other riders to play with so I think the world championships in Bergen should suit us well. We will be really motivated, all of us."
The question not just for the Worlds but for the season overall, is how to stop Peter Sagan? The Slovakian is aiming for a third straight world title this September and will also be a key rival to Kristoff and Katusha-Alpecin in the classics. Bystrom offered the suggestion that such a high level of success and form must inevitably end and is hoping its sooner rather than later.
"Last year he was amazing but we also see that in the season of 2015 Kristoff also won a lot of races and the year after it is a little bit difficult because more riders watch you. Maybe that is the case also for Sagan this year. Now, people are more aware of his abilities so he will be more watched. It will maybe not be his year this year I hope."
Before linking up with Kristoff and embarking on his European goals, Bystrom and his teammates have another week in Australia with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race events on Thursday and Sunday.