Alexander Kristoff could ride two Grand Tours in 2016 as he targets the sprints, Classics and the end of season world road race championships, Norwegian website Procycling.no has reported.
The 28 year-old Katusha sprinter won 20 races in 2015, including the Tour of Flanders, but missed out on victory at the Tour de France and was fourth in the world championships in Richmond behind Peter Sagan. A heavy race programme meant he was in action for 81 days in 2015 and he also became a father in the summer.
His coach and Katusha consultant Stein Ørn told Procycling.no that Kristoff will follow a similar programme in 2016, with the world championships in Qatar the biggest objective of the year. He will chose between riding the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California depending on if the Katusha team finalises a US-sponsor for 2016. The spring Classics will also be major objectives, with Ørn struggling to find sufficient time for rest and recover periods during the long 2016 season.
As in 2015, Kristoff will begin his 2016 at the Tour of Qatar in February and stay in the Gulf for the hillier Tour of Oman. He will get a taste of the cobbles by riding Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Paris-Nice will be the Norwegian sprinters final stage race before Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Three days of De Panne, the Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix.
Kristoff will take a break in late April before heading to California or Italy. If he does ride the Giro d’Italia, he is expected to focus on the expected sprint stages in the first two weeks before leaving the race before the mountain stages as so many other sprinters often do. Kristoff last rode the Giro d’Italia in 2012 –his first season with Katusha. He finished second in a sprint behind Mark Cavendish in Cervere and the team was second in the Verona team time trial.
Kristoff is set to return to the Tour de France but will not ride the Vuelta a Espana because the Spanish Grand Tour ends a month before the 2016 world road race championships in Qatar (October 9-16). Instead he will ride the Arctic Race of Norway (Aug 10-14), the Tour des Fjords (Aug 31-Sept 4) and the Eneco Tour (Sept 19-25).
The Norwegian sprinter’s lead out train of Marco Haller, Jacopo Guarnieri and new signing Michael Mørkøv (from Tinkoff-Saxo) are all expected to follow a very similar race programme.
Final details and confirmation of Kristoff’s goals for 2016 are expected to be confirmed at the team first training camp in Spain in December.