Kristoff plays down chances at Paris-Roubaix - Gallery

'I don't feel so good on the cobbles,' says Norwegian

Alexander Kristoff gave himself a "two or three" star rating, out of five, when assessing his chances of victory at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

The Norwegian, naturally, is racing to win, but given his form so far this spring, and his preference for the cobbles of the Tour of Flanders over the rougher stuff that will line the 114th Hell of the North, he would be satisfied merely to surpass his best ever result of 9th.

Coming off the Carrefour de l'Arbre at the end of Katusha's recon ride on Thursday, Kristoff puffed his cheeks out and cut a weary figure.

"I don't feel so good on the cobbles actually," he said, speaking to Cyclingnews and Belga. "I never have, but last year I was 10th - it's not too bad, so I hope to improve on that this year but we will see.

"How many stars is maximum?" he asked when pressed about how he rated his chances. "Maybe two, three. I don't think I'm the favourite with my previous results in Roubaix. I've done it six times, finished it three times, and two times I was top 10, so I don't have too many good results. I've finished as many times as I've not finished, so first I must get to the finish line."

Kristoff comes into the race without so much of the hype and attention that surrounded him last year when he came in off the back of wins at the Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs during a formidable spring campaign.

Though he started this season in much the same way he did 2015, he hasn't been able to hit those same heights and missing Gent-Wevelgem through illness was an unwelcome disruption.

"Last year I was the big favourite but I knew myself that I probably wasn't going to win because I've never felt so comfortable [here]," he said.

"It wasn't bad but I was quite far from the win. 10th was the best I could get, I won the sprint from my group. If I managed to be better than 9th, which is my best result, I must be happy, but I'm aiming for a good result, and to win is for sure the best."

Kristoff was unable to defend his Ronde crown but nevertheless finished a creditable fourth, while at Scheldeprijs Katusha got their positioning wrong and Kristoff was forced to ride back to the team bus while rivals Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel took to the podium.

"We didn't do such a good job at Scheldeprijs, but in Flanders I did a good race. I know we have strong guys who can do good work [at Paris-Roubaix]. I'm not so worried but still you must have the legs on the last sections to follow the best guys if you want to be in the race," he said.

"Whether I'm on the level to be able to follow Fabian [Cancellara] or [Peter] Sagan when they go, I don't know, but I hope so."

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