Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) heads to North America for final preparations ahead of the World Championships after notching his 20th win this season in a bunch sprint at Sunday's GP Ouest France-Plouay.
Following a disappointing Tour de France, the Katusha rider returned to winning ways with a stage and points classification victory at the Arctic Race of Norway but was off the pace at the one-day Vattenfall Cyclassics WorldTour event in Hamburg last weekend. The tough circuit suited the characteristics of the 28-year-old, who grabbed his fourth WorldTour win of season.
"Everything went how we planned it," Kristoff said of the win. "Of course we had to gamble a bit. We could not do all the work to catch back the three guys in the front, but we were present and saved forces for the last kilometre. In the sprint we really had control over the situation. I need to thank all my teammates. In the end we started here with three guys coming back from an injury, but they did a marvellous job for me. No need to say that I am very happy with this prestigious win."
Kristoff started the year in blistering fashion, notching 18 wins by mid-June to stake a claim as the fastest sprinter in the peloton. Kristoff had then gone to the Tour de France eyeing the green jersey and stage wins but finished the race empty handed as André Greipel and his Lotto Soudal team bossed the sprints.
The Norwegian beat a star-studded field at the GP Ouest France-Plouay, consisting of Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), among others. None factored in the final bunch sprint, but the race was a good test ahead of Richmond.
"My 20th win is a big one," Kristoff told Cyclingnews. "To win in the World Tour is always great. I'm really happy about that. Now I'm looking forward to the 21st victory. The World Championship is my next big goal. I've seen the course on video and it should fit me. The climbs are short and technical, and there are cobblestones."
"The Canadian races are a bit too hard for me, but it will be the perfect last preparation for Richmond," he said.