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“I felt quite good until I had one puncture and then two crashes, the puncture coming because of the crash. I was already behind the pack because of my first crash," Kristoff says

Photo: Sirotti

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LUCA PAOLINI

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PARIS - ROUBAIX

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13.04.2014 @ 23:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After his excellent showing in Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders, Alexander Kristoff was one of the big favourites for today's Paris-Roubaix but the Norwegian had a disastrous race. Two crashes and a puncture took him out of the race while Katusha co-captain Luca Paolini also lost all hopes due to a tumble.

 

It didn’t turn out the way Team Katusha had hoped with a series of punctures and crashes diminishing hopes for a shot at the finish line, but racing in northern France on the fabled cobbles is never an easy task. Best of the day for the Russian team was Viacheslav Kuznetsov, riding in his second Paris – Roubaix.

 

“I didn’t feel exactly great in the very beginning but after the Arenberg Forest I felt warmed up,” said Kuznetsov, who was the best-placed finisher for Team Katusha, taking 57th. “We lost the other guys in the front then (Kristoff and Paolini) but I moved up more toward the front and was able to stay there for a while.

 

"The speeds added so much stress today. Every time we’d come to a new sector the speeds would go up so much. It was that way all day and you could never lose concentration or stop pushing on the pedals, not even for one moment.

 

"This was my second time to do Paris – Roubaix and I did finish last year but it was very, very difficult for me. It was hard this time too, but so much better. Now I can go home to Russia for the first time since November where I will have a little rest and then I will race next in the Tour of Turkey.”

 

Team Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff was high on the list of pre-race favorites, but luck was not on his side in Sunday’s 112th edition of Paris-Roubaix:

 

“I felt quite good until I had one puncture and then two crashes, the puncture coming because of the crash," he said. "I was already behind the pack because of my first crash, and then in the second I was sitting there for two minutes while the race went away. I knew I couldn’t come back.

 

"My arm is sore but it’s not too bad. It’s disappointing to not be there at the finish, but that’s the way cycling is. Now I will have a little rest and then I hope to do well in the Norway races that are coming up."

 

Luca Paolini was solid through sector 11, riding in a group at one minute behind a breakaway of 8 that went early in the race, but a mishap in front of him made it clear he wouldn’t see the front of the race:

 

“There was a guy who crashed in front of me and his bike flipped all over the road," he said. "There was no way to avoid hitting it so I crashed too. It was right at that moment that Omega Pharma hit the gas so it was such a bad moment. And it was impossible to get through the cars quickly so I was there alone after that and there was no way to come back.”

 

Team director Torsten Schmidt summed it up best, saying:

 

“We are really disappointed about today, but it was a day of absolute bad luck. We had two punctures at a bad moment and then Kristoff had a crash at another bad moment. He felt super good today and we did have high hopes for him. But that’s the other side of Paris – Roubaix – sometimes the luck is on your side and sometime it isn’t. You just have to live with this.”

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