It was a strong performance from Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Alexander Kristoff in Saturday’s 108th Milano-Sanremo. The Norwegian sprinter brought home the group to win ahead of all other sprinters and claim fourth place, five-seconds behind the breakaway threesome that produced the winner in Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).
“Yeah, I was best of the rest today. There were 3 guys who attacked and got away but we just couldn’t catch them. Fourth was the best I could be today. As the type of rider I am, there was no chance I could follow them when they attacked. I had more than enough energy to stay in the group I was with. I was full gas and almost over my limit on the Cipressa and again on the Poggio I was at my limit the entire climb, so I never could have followed those guys. For me to win again I knew everything had to come together perfectly so I could put up a good sprint, but I can’t control what happens in the race and we did not sprint for the win this time. I want to thank Simon (Špilak) for his big help on the Poggio and also Maxim (Belkov) for being on the front of the peloton so much today,” said team captain Alexander Kristoff, winner of the 2014 Milano-Sanremo.
Kwiatkowski was joined on the podium by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) for second place and Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors in third, all on the same time of 7:08:39 (40.733 km/h) for the 291k course from Milano to Sanremo. Sagan began the attack on the Poggio and was quickly joined by Alaphilippe and then Kwiatkowski, tackling the climb and then increasing their advantage on the descent. Once the three riders hit the flats into the finish line, it was clear the chasing peloton would run out of real estate to catch the break.
“We knew there was a chance that Sagan would attack on the Poggio. He’s in good shape and we saw some of this in Tirreno so we knew it could happen again here. It wasn’t good for us when he attacked, of course, and was hard for Alex and the other sprinters to follow, but we did a good race. From the beginning the team stayed with Alex to protect him and put him in a good place to save energy. But when Sagan attacked and then after the downhill he held 17-seconds and there was only 2km to go, it was impossible to come back. Alex was the first of the group and did well in the sprint, but we have to recognize the three guys that were up front that were stronger on the Poggio. His strong fourth place finish as the best in the sprint shows us Alex’s condition is good when he can beat all of the biggest sprinters. Now come more important classics and we are optimistic,” said José Azevedo.
“I always have a little bit left for the sprint, that’s the way I am. I felt good actually and I saw the speed was really high, one of the fastest over Cipressa and Poggio in the times I have raced here, so the feeling was good for me. I will go to Belgium now with good confidence. The climbs there are shorter and they will suit me better,” said Alexander Kristoff.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele