Kristoff surprised with De Panne lead

While he did not get the sprint victory he desired on stage 2 of the VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff pulled off one of the biggest coups of his career by taking over the lead in the general classification from Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

Kristoff took second to Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) in a chaotic sprint into Koksijde today. The Norwegian profited in the general classification from the 1:41 time loss Sagan suffered after sitting up from the peloton as it wound up for the finale. Sagan has stated he is only using the race as training for the Classics.

Tied on time with stage 1 runner-up Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana), the jersey went to Kristoff based upon his fourth place on stage 1 compared with Guarnieri's sixth place on stage 2, and the 24-year-old was surprised to learn he would be awarded the white jersey of overall leader.

"Actually I'm quite surprised with this leadership," Kristoff said. "I'm obviously very happy to be in first position both in general classification and point ranking. I would have been even happier if I won: I went very close to the victory, but Kittel is a great sprinter, he did a perfect sprint while maybe I started a little early, losing some power in the last metres."

After the day's lone breakaway rider Andy Cappelle (Accent.Jobs-Willems Veranda's) was brought back, Katusha came to the fore to help drive the pace into the sprint finish, keeping Kristoff out of trouble and in good position.

"All the team was great: we proved we can work very well together, and we can obtain some good results. Tomorrow in the morning we will have another chance to try and win and keep the jersey, waiting for the afternoon individual time trial."

That time trial, a 14.7km test in De Panne, could well spell the end of Kristoff's time in the race lead as the time trial is not a discipline in which he specializes, but the Norwegian intends to try. "It will be hard to take the overall victory, we're all very close in general classification, but I'll do my best".

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