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"With Thor retiring this year, I hope I can be his Norwegian successor. He has such good bike handling skills. No one could follow him on the downhill. He rode fantastic today."

Photo: ARN/P.Perreve






17.08.2014 @ 23:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff denied Thor Hushovd his final big goodbye win on Norwegian soil when he powered past his compatriot on the finishing straight in the final stage. However, the Katusha was captain was full of praise of the out-going champion and now regards himself as Hushovd's successor.


Coming from behind with a tremendous turn of speed, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff stole the win from former world champion Thor Hushovd, catching his fellow countryman at the 50 m mark and continuing to gain speed all the way through the finish line.


"Thor did a very strong downhill and it was an impressive attack," Kristoff said. "But I tried to follow him. When I saw that I was catching him, I wasn’t sure if he still had something left to give. I had to dig deep in the last 500 meters to get to him and it wasn’t until 200 meters that I was sure I could.


"I am happy to win a second stage here in Norway. For me this is my first race since the Tour de France, and I am happy I have this shape for the moment, which is improving every day. I have some ambitions in my next races, for example in Hamburg.


"Today the team was perfect and I had really great support from my teammates. I want to thank all of the guys because it was a hard race to control it and they did it."


The last day of racing brought a third victory in a row for Team Katusha, with Kristoff taking his second sprint win in three days. Teammate Simon Špilak took the mountain stage on Saturday, giving the Russian Global Cycling Project victories in three of the four stages for the Arctic Race of Norway.  Kristoff just missed the overall victory by four seconds to race winner Steven Kruijswijk of Belkin. With today’s win Kristoff becomes the current most winning rider in the world with 13 victories, four second-places and 3 third places. 


"In the last few days we’ve seen that Alexander feels great in the climbs, so today we had only one plan and that was to work for Alex. The entire team worked hard to control the race and to help him. All the guys are in very good condition and we could see it today, when they were really impressive in the race. We passed the climb 6 times and we saw the downhill, which was quite speedy. We knew Hushovd as a strong specialist of the downhill, so his attack was expected. Alex did not take too many risks on the descent, which is why he came into the final km a little bit behind Hushovd. But he had enough power to pass him at the finish line so it was a very nice victory. We are very happy with our performance here in the Arctic Race. We took 3 victories and a final 2nd place in GC. Katusha did a perfect race," said sports director Dmitry Konyshev.


Sunday’s course totaling 165 km was in Tromsø, located 350 km north of the Arctic Circle and included six closing laps of 8,5 km each. Team Katusha controlled the front of the main field for most of the race, working to keep Kristoff fresh. While the six laps were difficult with the climb coming on each circuit, Kristoff looked strong and was ready to follow when Thor Hushovd attacked at under 2 km to go. 


"With Thor retiring this year, I hope I can be his Norwegian successor. He has such good bike handling skills. No one could follow him on the downhill. He rode fantastic today," said Alexander Kristoff in regards to second place finisher Thor Hushovd of BMC.


"I’m his successor now and I’m delighted with two stage wins and a top 3 overall position at the Arctic Race of Norway after the Tour de France.”


Kristoff also earned the overall points classification jersey while Špilak took second in the climbing competition. Team rider Anton Vorobyev received the honor of riding in the Viking jersey after earning the highest fan vote on Saturday for displaying great courage and perseverance on the stage.  



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