Kristoff stamps authority on Tour des Fjords with consecutive stage wins
Katusha rider moves into race lead
Alexander Kristoff continued his dominance at the Tour des Fjords on Friday as the Katusha rider enjoyed consecutive victories and a ninth career stage win at the Norwegian race.
Kristoff's stage win ahead of Nick van der Lijke (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) came after the 29-year-old caused a split in the field and created a seven-rider front group. The peloton crossed the line 46 seconds in arrears to see Kristoff take the yellow jersey off Leigh Howard's shoulders and he now leads Michael Schär (BMC) and van der Lijke by 20 seconds with two stages to come.
"The pack was not really strong enough to catch back the break, so I went to the front to try to keep the speed high," Kristoff said of the stage. "Then on the downhill I had good speed and I saw that I had a little gap so I kept going. Two guys managed to bridge up and they were strong guys, so I was very happy to see the time gap go down. In the sprint I was the strongest, but I had to go from the front so it wasn't ideal. And even though I was pretty tired from the chase, I was confident that I could win."
Kristoff added that he was pleased to win the stage in different circumstances to his usual sprint victories but, despite taking the jersey, he isn't convinced the GC is wrapped up just yet.
"It was a little bit like a Classic today. It was a long race and horrible weather conditions," said Kristoff who also leads the points classification.
"At the end I saw we did not have the power to close the gap to the strong three guys in the front so I made one big attempt to do it myself and I'm happy it worked out in the end. I can't predict on the GC yet. There are still two more days to go and tomorrow is a very hard day. Maybe if I still have the lead after tomorrow I think I have a good shot."
Having started his season in the heat at the Tours of Qatar and Oman, Kristoff had five wins to his name before starting his Classics campaign. For the first time in three seasons, there was no monument victory, with a solitary stage win at the Three Days of De Panne his only success. May brought a second Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt victory and a stage of the Tour of California before a lean Tour de France.
Kristoff returned to his best at the Arctic Race of Norway on home soil where he took out the first stage. The Tour des Fjords has also proved to be a happy hunting ground and prime preparation for the Doha World Championships in October.
"This is my home race but I'm still not in my home city – that will be tomorrow. The last two days of this race are my home training ground and I know every corner," he added of his goals for the remainder of the race.
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