Alexander Kristoff heads home empty handed from the Criterium du Dauphine after five stages. Despite his Katusha-Alpecin team working hard for the Norwegian on the last sprint day of the stage race for 2017, Kristoff could only manage sixth place behind a quartet of Frenchman and German neo-pro Phil Bauhaus.
Kristoff started the important warmup race for the Tour de France with eighth last place on stage one. He vastly improved to finish second behind Arnaud Demare (FDJ) on the first day for the sprinters into Arlanc. He was then sixth in the bunch kick the following day as the breakaway stayed away and finishes the race with his Mâcon result.
"The team did an incredible job. My teammates put me in the perfect spot. I was ready to pull it off, but I didn't have the legs to hold off the guys behind me," Kristoff said of the stage 5 result.
Post-stage, Katusha-Alpecin announced that Kristoff would be a DNS for Friday's stage, the first of three days in the mountains, with the 29-year-old explaining he hasn't been able to race at 100 per cent all week.
"I've suffered in the last days from some sickness, and today I did not feel so good in general, but I was hoping at the end I could be feeling better," said Kristoff. "I didn't feel so bad right at the end, but it's hard when you have to perform at maximum and you are not at your top. Others came around me and I tried to sprint with what I had left but the others were better than me. It's a pity because the team did a really good job and I wanted to win but I could not pull it off."
Currently negotiating his contract with the team, and a possible move after six-seasons, Kristoff was aiming for his first win a stage race since the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde in March. However, having missed the opportunity to add to his six wins from the 2017 season, Kristoff will be looking to impress at the Norwegian nationals before the Tour de France start on July 1.
Kristoff has not won at a WorldTour stage race since the 2015 Tour de Suisse, despite taking 21 victories in the intervering two years. He will look to break that drought at the Tour where he won two stages in 2014.
With Tiago Machado Katusha-Alpecin's best placed GC rider in 41st place overall, the teams best hope or a stage win at the race is likely to come via a breakaway in the French Alps.