Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) confirmed that he will lead Norway's challenge at this month’s UCI Road World Championships in Spain and added that the Canadian WorldTour teams would act has key markers in his build up.
Kristoff is in Canada for the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal, his two final warm-up races before the Worlds. He told Cyclingnews that he has held his form through the summer. "I'm here to get good shape but to be honest I'm in pretty good form. I don't know when the dip is going to come, and I'm pretty nervous about that, but my numbers in training have been good. I just hope that the form can last for another two weeks," he told Cyclingnews.
The 27-year-old is enjoying his most successful season to date with wins in Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, two stages at the Tour de France and victory in the Hamburg Classic. In those races he's relied on the depth of Team Katusha to support him but the Worlds are a totally different prospect with Norway qualifying with just three riders.
"We must play off each other because we don’t have a team to control the race," Kristoff told Cyclingnews.
"That means we have to follow the big teams but it's good that we'll have three guys who can do that. I think with the guys that we have we're capable of making a result but with the results I've had this year I'm the main guy. We don't have the team to control everything so we have to play with what we have."
Kristoff will be joined in Ponderrada by Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), who is also competing in Canada, and Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin).
"I'm the leader but we have open roles. Look at the Olympics where Boasson Hagen as the leader and I ended up getting third. I got in the break and I made the most of my position."
The jury is out on whether the Canadian WorldTour races offer a stronger build-up to the Worlds than the Vuelta. Rui Costa bucked a long trend last year by competing in Canada before triumphing in Italy.
"Historically it's about the Vuelta and the stats aren't wrong, so for sure the Vuelta is the best, but Rui Costa showed last year that it's possible to do it in another way."
As for the Canadian races, Kristoff admitted that the two courses may not suit his style but added that if he could perform well here he will have laid down an important marker ahead of the Worlds.
"It's difficult to say. A sprinter hasn't won here last year, Gesink won so maybe Montreal is better for me but we'll have to see. The final here is tough but if I can survive here then I'm a strong candidate for the Worlds."