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"Honestly in one moment I thought I could win, but John was too fast in the end and I could not answer. I was on the limit. The finish was on a small uphill and in the end I was too tired."

Photo: A.S.O.






22.03.2015 @ 19:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Under the dedicated guidance of Katusha’s Luca Paolini, team leader Alexander Kristoff came to the front to launch his sprint from the 250 meter mark, putting up a powerful turn of speed for the finish line.  It was only the closing meters that saw Kristoff slip to second place behind winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) in Sunday’s Milano-Sanremo.

"I think I started too early, maybe I needed to wait 50 meters later to start my sprint, but I had no other solution because I was in first position. Luca was really great today and he did impressive work on the Poggio and later in the final. I could not ask more from him. Honestly in one moment I thought I could win, but John was too fast in the end and I could not answer. I was on the limit. The finish was on a small uphill and in the end I was too tired," said defending champion Alexander Kristoff.

Between the climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio, Daniel Oss (BMC) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) attacked with Paolini continuing to lead the charge behind.  By the time the twosome hit the Poggio, Paolini was in front with Kristoff on the wheel, furiously ascending the climb.  On the technical descent of the many hairpin turns, gaps opened up and a crash delayed some favorites, but Paolini continued to lead under the one-kilometer to go banner with 25-30 riders approaching the line together.  Once Paolini dropped off the front, Kristoff took it from there with a massive sprint from the front, just missing the win by less than a bike length.  Joining Kristoff and Degenkolb on the podium was Michael Matthews (Orica-Greenedge ) in third place after 6:46:16 of racing. 


"The team was really great today. I thank all of the guys, and of course Luca. It was a hard day. I did not feel like I did last year but anyway I was still strong. On the Cipressa was a hard moment for me but the team supported me well. Later on the Poggio Luca went in front and provided me the rhythm I needed to get past those feelings.  Of course I am a little bit disappointed but it is normal since I was very close to the win. But maybe later I will be happy, because it is 2nd place in Milano-Sanremo," concluded Alexander Kristoff.

"I think we can be proud with the way our team did this race. Katusha worked in front the entire day.  We took the responsibility on ourselves and all the guys were very impressive. In the end we did all we could. Luca was great on the Poggio and in the final Alex did a great sprint. We had some bad luck with Alexander Kolobnev who crashed just before Cipressa. He was in great shape and I am sure he could have helped Kristoff and Paolini on the Poggio.  Katusha was strong today, and we can be happy," said sports director José Azevedo.

The 199 professional riders rolled out the Piazza Sempione under rainy skies and cool temperatures for Milano-Sanremo, the first monument in cycling of the 2015 racing season and a whopping 293km. A break of 11 riders went clear with Katusha Team on the front working to keep the main field within striking distance of the breakaway.  With 50km to go they still held 2 minutes, but the gap continued to fall as they approached the final climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio.  On these last climbs the race blew apart with numerous crashes on the drying roads and riders coming off the back from the high pace of the peloton.  Katusha Team continued with the sole mission of positioning Alexander Kristoff for the final and the strong Norwegian sprinter landed on the podium for the second year in a row, this time just missing back-to-back wins.



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