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“I still couldn’t believe what I’d just done. I felt like I was in a dream. The only thing that told me it was real was my shivering from the cold weather!  I was so happy I couldn’t find the words," Kristo...

Photo: RCS Sport








26.03.2014 @ 11:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Three days ago Alexander Kristoff took the biggest win of his career when he crossed the line first in Sanremo to conquer the first monument of the year. Having had the time to reflect on his big moment, he detailed his experience to the Katusha website.


The day started like any other race day for Alexander Kristoff as he headed down to breakfast with the team, loaded up on calories from bread and cereals and shared a laugh with Luca Paolini and his teammates. He was anxious to get racing. The only downside was the weather – it was rainy and cold, but hey, at least it wasn’t snowing.


Alexander Kristoff is used to the cold – he’s Norwegian and sometimes trains in such conditions at home but he knew at 294 km it would be a long day on the bike. As the race progressed and the hours ticked over, many riders felt the chill of the wet seep into their bones. 


“I was freezing like any other guy, but it was similar conditions to those I have to sometimes train in at home, so I was ok," he said. "During the stage I was suffering like others but I noticed it was mostly from the cold, not from my condition.”


The 2014 Milano-Sanremo route featured 8 climbs, most notably the Cipressa and the Poggio, the points of the race that can make or break a rider. Katusha team riders were all in for Kristoff, making sure he had what he needed to stay fresh and rested in case the finale was a group sprint. 


“Everyone worked so hard all day, especially Kuchy (Aliaksandr Kuchynski) and Pavel (Brutt) before the Cipressa. I could tell at this point that I was feeling good, but I wasn’t yet thinking of the win. And of course Luca was critical in the final for my success. He was unbelievable. He brought me from being last in the front group to the very front! I could ride easy on his wheel and only focus on my sprint.”


Paolini led the front field of 25 under the final kilometer banner with Kristoff on the wheel, looking solid in his effort and comfortable with his position. Also in the hunt for the victory were Philippe Gilbert, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Sacha Modolo…


“I was on Gilbert’s wheel when Modolo and Cav opened up the sprint on my right. I got a little boxed in and I thought I’d made a huge mistake.  Luckily it opened up again and I could do my sprint.”


Kristoff’s sprint was so powerful he was continuing to gain ground when he hit the finish line, winning by more than a bike length to Fabian Cancellara and Ben Swift.


Crossing the finish line, Kristoff punched the air with his fist, taking in the glory of a monumental win:


“I was super happy when I saw I’d taken the win. It was the best moment in my life. This is the biggest victory I could dream of and is above expectations. It’s the highlight of my career.”


Later at Katusha Team bus, swamped by teammates, directors and staff, Kristoff felt overwhelmed by what had just happened:


“I still couldn’t believe what I’d just done. I felt like I was in a dream. The only thing that told me it was real was my shivering from the cold weather!  I was so happy I couldn’t find the words. All the team and directors were so happy for me.  It was a great victory for the team. Now I hope to carry this form to Belgium and win some more.”


It was an important moment for Katusha Team and the Russian Global Cycling Project, chalking up a win in a prestigious Monument of cycling, with two prior wins coming from Joaquim Rodriguez in the Fall classic Il Lombardia in 2012 and 2013.


Sports director José Azevedo noted the achievement for the Katusha Team:


“It’s one of the biggest Classics in the world and the first of the season so it’s important to know you can win early.  Today the team did a perfect job.  In our team meeting we had a strategy and we followed the plan. This is absolutely great success!”


A proud and happy teammate Luca Paolini summed it up, adding,


“I feel like a winner too. Alex wins not just thanks to me but to the entire team. They protected us throughout the day. He’s fast. When I saw he was still there on the Poggio, we gave everything for him. I was happy to work for him.”



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