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"This was a new way for me to win today as I have not bridged across too many times so it gives me confidence that I am in good shape. That’s important for Flanders."







31.03.2015 @ 19:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It was another win for Team Katusha on Tuesday with Alexander Kristoff out-sprinting his breakaway companions to take the ninth team win of the season and his sixth personal victory in 2015. His teammate and fellow Norwegian Sven Erik Bystrøm was part of the finish action for sixth place. The win on the line also put Kristoff into the first leader’s jersey by a wide margin of 44-seconds to the pre-race overall contenders. 


"On the Leberg I saw that Sven Erik was in front and knew that he didn’t have the best sprint, so I told my other guys to keep it close and I would bridge up. I made it to that group and we worked at full gas all the way to the finish to keep the gap. Debusschere wasn’t pulling so I wasn’t sure how fresh or fast he would be at the end. We went at the same time at 250 m but I had a little more speed in the legs and I could take him. It was not a plan this morning to take the GC this week but we’ll see after tomorrow. We’ve had a very good classics season so far and the whole team is at a very good level. This was our best team effort so far this year. Sven did a great job. It’s his first year professional and last year he won the U23 world championships. He’s my training companion and today we raced really well together. I think he has a great future ahead of him," said stage winner Alexander Kristoff.


The six-man sprint came from the successful breakaway with Kristoff taking the win on the same time as Belgian champion Jens Debusschere and Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing). With the time bonuses, Kristoff heads up the GC by 2 seconds, but holds 44-seconds to the trailing main contenders. 


With 13 bergs on course during the 189,1 km stage from De Panne to Zottegem, there were plenty of opportunities to launch an attack. With two men up the road from Lotto Soudal, Bystrøm went to the front at 28 km to go and pushed hard to create a gap. An attentive Kristoff saw the move from his friend and planned to join him soon enough. By 24 km to go Kristoff was across to Bystrøm and once the original two riders were absorbed, it was a breakaway group of six all the way to the finish line – two from Team Katusha, three from Lotto Soudal and Devolder from Trek Factory Racing. Kristoff handily won the sprint, going from 250 m and still surging as he crossed the finish line.


"This was a new way for me to win today as I have not bridged across too many times so it gives me confidence that I am in good shape. That’s important for Flanders," said Alex Kristoff as he looks forward to Sunday’s monumental classic, the Tour of Flanders. 


Racing continues on Wednesday for stage 2. At 217 km the stage begins in Zottegem and ends in Koksijde. The climbs are featured in the middle of the stage, but near the coast expect wind to again play a part in the racing tactics.  



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