European road champion Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) may not have featured in the bunch sprints at the Tour de Suisse, but the former winner of Milan-San Remo and Tour of Flanders believes that he is closing in on his best form and that if he ships a couple more kilos he will be in contention to win stages at the Tour de France in July.
Kristoff was dropped on the opening hilly road stage on Sunday and suffered a similar situation on stage 3 when the bunch hit the final climb. This time around he made contact with the tail-end of the peloton on the descent towards the finish, but with so much ground to cover between the front of the stretched-out bunch and the rear, he was unable to contest the finish and rolled over the line to fill one of the latter places.
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won the stage ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), with Kristoff 65th, 27 seconds down.
“It was quite difficult conditions out there in the rain, but luckily it wasn’t cold. It could have been worse, but it was a hard pace on the last climb. I wasn’t able to hold it but I came back on the descent, but the problem when you do that is that you’re coming back in last position. There were then gaps but I couldn’t close them. It was pity because I thought I’d made it but I couldn’t make it to the front,” he told Cyclingnews after stopping outside the UAE Team Emirates bus.
Kristoff may have missed out on monument in 2018, but bar a relatively poor stint on the cobbles in March and April he has been consistent. He won in the Tour of Oman and Abu Dhabi, before winning in Frankfurt and then taking the title at the GP du canton d'Argovie.
The climbs at the Tour de Suisse are always going to put the Norwegian on the back foot, but he is using the race to shape his form, and he is hoping that the difficult terrain and hard work now will benefit him in July.
“Overall I’m feeling OK," he said. "Today it was a reduced pack but I was able to survive. I still need to improve a bit more because I want to be fighting for the win. It’s hard to say where I am with form. I think that with the power I’m going well, but I’m still a bit too heavy. I think that if I can lose two kilos and keep the same power, then I can be at my best.
"I think I’m around 80kg at the moment, but I’m not entirely sure because I don’t weigh myself every day. I’m hoping that this race can get me in the right shape and that I can take care of myself heading into the Tour de France. There’s one more chance left for me in this race, and then I’ll do nationals.”
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