Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) has withdrawn from the inaugural Arctic Race of Norway due to illness, his team announced today. At hospital in his home town of Stavanger, the 26-year-old Norwegian was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia in the right lung. His Katusha team has reported that he's suffering from a fever reaching 39 degrees and is on a treatment of antibiotics.
The four-day Norwegian stage race, unique in that the entire parcours is above the Arctic Circle, runs from August 8 to August 11 and Kristoff was considered a favourite for stage wins if not overall victory on a course favourable to the Norwegian fast man.
"It is such a pity for Alexander and our team, because after the Tour de France he was in a great shape and could get some nice results in next races, including Arctic Race of Norway," said Katusha directeur sportif Valerio Piva. "He was very motivated."
The Arctic Race of Norway was scheduled to be Kristoff's first competition following his Tour de France debut. The Norwegian completed the French Grand Tour and placed in the top six on six different stages, with his best result a second place result behind Marcel Kittel on the opening stage.
Kristoff has had a strong season marked with earlier success on home roads at the Tour of Norway, May 15-19, where he won three stages and had a stint in the leader's jersey. The Norwegian has also won a stage at the Three Days of De Panne and the Tour de Suisse and had a solid spring Classics campaign with 8th at Milan-Sanremo, 4th at the Tour of Flanders, 5th at Scheldeprijs and 9th at Paris-Roubaix.
Katusha expects a quick recovery back to health for Kristoff.