Alexander Kristoff came into the re-vamped GP Ouest France - Plouay as defending champion and in form off the back of a stage win at Arctic Race of Norway and third at Cyclassics Hamburg with the Katusha rider just denied the WorldTour victory by breakaway riders Olivier Naesen (IAM Cycling) and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac).
While Katusha took on the responsibility of chasing down the breakaway to ensure the sprint finish for Kristoff, the peloton came up five seconds short of Naesen and three seconds short on Bettiol as the Norwegian won the bunch spring for the final podium position.
Kristoff, 29, explained that while he was highly motivated for the 50th running of the Bretagne classic, the lumpy parcours almost ruled him out of contention.
"The break was stronger today. I won the sprint from the group, but I really struggled on the climb. I came back after that and I felt I had control in the sprint, but unfortunately there were two guys in the front so it was third place to me," Kristoff. "I felt not super today, but in the sprint I felt good, so I am happy with this result although, of course, I was hoping for a win like last year."
Kristoff added that work by his lead out men Marco Haller and Jacopo Guarnieri, after early work from Jurgen Van den Broeck and Vladimir Isaychev, couldn't be faulted and the result bodes well for upcoming racing at the Tour de Fjords.
We had good control, but perhaps the break was caught too early. Jacopo went in the second break and showed he was very strong today. Also he and Marco kept me in a good position all the time. I am very happy with the work they did and the work of the entire team. I tried to win and I made the most of it," he said.
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