Alexander Kristoff was a forlorn sight at the bottom of a pile-up in the lead-in to the Taaienberg during Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Despite the incident, his Katusha-Alpecin team is confident that he can still lead them at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, where he has finished second in each of the past two seasons.
The Norwegian had to be picked off the ground by his directeur sportif Torsten Schmidt following the huge crash. Kristoff would get back on his bike but he abandoned around 10 kilometres later and headed straight for the team hotel. The decision was made with an eye to Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, as Kristoff was well and truly out of contention in Omloop by that point. Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) was caught up in the same crash and also abandoned soon afterwards.
“He quit the race because he was so far away there was no sense to continue,” said Schmidt. “We had to completely change his bike. He lost some skin but he’s ok and he will start the race tomorrow.”
Kristoff suffered some minor abrasions to his neck and Schmidt expects him to be a bit sore at the start of the day, but he said Katusha-Alpecin will set out with optimism on Sunday.
“For sure, he will have some pain in the muscles in the neck but the team has good people to look after him,” Schmidt explained. “We have some tough guys in the team. Already in the race we were talking about tomorrow and they will start with a good attitude and they’ll be in the mood to win.
“In the sprint, it would be difficult to win with another guy. We have to see how it is it’s 200k and many things can happen before the finish line.”
Asked by a Norwegian journalist to estimate how long it had been since Kristoff had endured his last serious crash in a race, Schmidt mimed knocking on wood and estimated two years. The journalist responded that it had in fact been some 962 days since Kristoff had taken a similar tumble.
“It would be better if he had the next 2,000 days on the bike also without crashes like that. I hope it’s done now for the rest of the season,” Schmidt said