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“I was too far behind in the kilometers before the Trieu and the Oude Kwaremont. After the latter I was in a 3rd group but Rudi Selig brought me back to group two where my teammates were working for me, hoping to bring me to the sprin...

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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KUURNE-BRUXELLES-KUURNE

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VLADIMIR ISAICHEV

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02.03.2014 @ 21:12 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the bunch sprint in today's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne but as a 10-rider group had gone clear on the Oude Kwaremont, it was only good enough for 11th. The Norwegian admitted to being badly positioned at the crucial point but is happy with his condition ahead of bigger races to come.

 

It wasn’t an easy day in Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne on Sunday. A ten-man group slipped away at just under 50km to go, and despite an earnest chase mounted by Katusha Team, the pared down group arrived at the finish line to contest the sprint.

 

Katusha Team had four dedicated men trying to bring back the break: Luca Paolini, Alexander Kristoff, Vladimir Isaychev and Viacheslav Kuznetsov.

 

“My legs felt really good," Kuznetsov said. "Before the race I was a bit worried about this after my crash yesterday. I like this kind of race. I really like cobblestones. On the Oude Kwaremont I was in about 30th position when the guys from Omega Pharma – Quick Step went away. So we had to chase. It was Lotto-Belisol and us doing the job of chasing in the beginning, but ten kilometers further it was just Katusha who did the work. Luca Paolini was amazing. We didn’t win, but we showed good form.

 

The lead group continued to hold one minute as they approached the finish line for the third time. Under the 1km banner it was cat-and-mouse from the group of ten, but Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) ramped up his sprint with 250 meters to go and held off Moreno Hofland of Belkin to take his third win in Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne. The final spot on the podium went to Sep Vanmarcke, also of Belkin.

 

Alexander Kristoff won the sprint from the first chasing group and thus took 11th place in the race for Katusha Team.

 

“I was too far behind in the kilometers before the Trieu and the Oude Kwaremont," he said. "After the latter I was in a 3rd group but Rudi Selig brought me back to group two where my teammates were working for me, hoping to bring me to the sprint for the victory. It’s a pity our group did not manage to close the gap, but Katusha did everything possible for it. Normally I am never good in the early part of the season. The other years my legs started to feel good after Paris-Nice but now I have that level already. I am ahead of the other years.”

 

The peloton saw good weather and dry roads for the 2014 Kuune-Brussels-Kuurne. In the early part of the 197km race, Russian national champion Vladimir Isaychev was part of a four-man break that saw success for 120 km when Belkin and Omega Pharma went to work to shut down the effort and split the race apart for the last one-third of racing.

 

Isaychev summed up the day’s events:

 

“It was a hard fight in the beginning of the race to arrive in the right break. I was in two successful breaks but in the beginning we had to work some ten kilometers to get just a ten second gap. When the peloton finally let us go, I managed to ride smart and saved some energy, hoping to be still useful for my teammates in the final. We did that very well, I think.”

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