The Katusha team controlled the race in several key moments but then the Norwegian started his sprint early in Via Roma after lead-out man Luca Paolini ran out of legs. Kristoff hit out and was on the front but the 300km of racing and the slight gradient bit hard into his legs. Degenkolb passed him in sight of the finish to snatch victory.
“Second place is not bad, it’s the first loser but I feel bad because I almost had it,” Kristoff said after the podium ceremony.
“Maybe I’ll be happy later because it’s a great result and we can be proud of how the whole team rode. We went close but it’s not the same feeling as last year. I was happier last year.”
He was not afraid to admit the mistake he made by starting his sprint a little too early.
“It was maybe a little bit too long for me,” he conceded. “Luca Paolini did a great job but we maybe lacked one guy more after the Poggio to help the lead out. Luca did the last the 1.5km on his own and was so tired with 300 metres to go that I had to take over and start my sprint. It was 50 metres too much for me and I couldn’t hold it all the way. Your legs are too tired after a long race to do what they normally can do.”
Kristoff spent much of the race hidden in the peloton and then seemed to toil on the Cipressa and Poggio, pushing a big gear near the back of the peloton as Team Sky rode an aggressive race. He knew he was fortunate that the race came back together on the descent of the Poggio.
“I was concentrating on my own race and surviving on the climbs, I didn’t worry so much about what was happening at the front,” he said.
“I did all I could and couldn’t have gone any harder. I have to be happy that it all came back together and it was a sprint. I got second but after winning last year, I’m disappointed. I suffered on the climbs a little bit. But when you go this close, for sure you are never super happy.”
Fortunately Kristoff has other goals to look forward to this spring and now heads to Belgium looking for revenge at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“I have many goals for 2015 and this was just one of them. Now we’ve got the Flanders Classics, then it’s the Tour [de France] and then it’s the world championships in Richmond. There are many things coming up this year,” he said.