If nothing else, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) is always willing give an honest appraisal of his race. Kristoff was no different after Milan-San Remo where, in his own words, he was best of the rest after taking the bunch sprint behind the attacking group of Michal Kwiatkowski, Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe.
After the attack near the top of the Poggio, Kristoff had to dig in and hope that it would come back together, admitting that there was little he could do when Sagan initiated the move.
"I was best of the rest today. There were three guys who attacked and got away, but we just couldn't catch them. Fourth was the best I could be today. As the type of rider I am, there was no chance I could follow them when they attacked," Kristoff explained. "I had more than enough energy to stay with the group I was in. I was full gas and almost over my limit on the Cipressa, and again on the Poggio, I was at my limit the entire climb, so I could never have followed those guys."
Kristoff won Milan-San Remo in 2014, beating Fabian Cancellara and Ben Swift in a bunch gallop. On that occasion, he had to rely on his hard working domestique Luca Paolini to bring back a number of attacks, including a late on by Vincenzo Nibali. Kristoff needed a day similar to that, but on Saturday there was no cohesive chase behind the three attackers leaving them to maintain a small gap.
"For me to win again I knew everything had to come together perfectly so I could put up a good sprint, but I can't control what happens in the race and we did not sprint for the win this time," he said. "I want to thank Simon (Špilak) for his big help on the Poggio and also Maxim (Belkov) for being on the front of the peloton so much today."
There are some positives to take from the result, says Kristoff, who will resume his Classics campaign at E3 Harelbeke next Friday. He believes that his ability to hold onto the furious pace on the Poggio and the Cipressa bodes well for the shorter, punchier climbs in Belgium, where he hopes to add a second Tour of Flanders title to his palmarès.
"I always have a little bit left for the sprint, that's the way I am. I felt good actually, and I saw the speed was really high, one of the fastest over Cipressa and Poggio in the times I have raced here, so the feeling was good for me. I will go to Belgium now with good confidence. The climbs there are shorter, and they will suit me better."
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here.