LEUVEN (VG) Alexander Kristoff (34) has had constant headwinds from start to finish for much of 2021.
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The result is the Norwegian’s weakest season on the bike seat in ten years.
– I think nobody is very afraid of me, so I don’t feel any pressure, Kristoff tells VG in Belgium.
Kristoff has come very close to a World Cup victory on several occasions. But rarely has the track’s profile been adjusted better than the one he will work on in Flanders on Sunday afternoon.
This time, its own form is the great uncertainty.
The problems started already before the season:
- Both the training camp with the UAE team in December 2020, and a personal training camp abroad went awry as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, the base before the season was weakened.
- Several races earlier in the season were canceled for the same reason. It’s an experience that Kristoff empirically needs to harden the body before spring classics.
- Kristoff started Paris-Nice with stomach problems and caught a cold in Flanders around spring.
- In Flanders it played at a critical moment, and in Scheldeprijs it capsized.
- In NM cycling, the 34-year-old rolled over and suffered a blow to his ankle.
- Shortly before the World Cup in Belgium, where Kristoff is now, he caught a cold again.
– I would like to have a different drive-up. The trail is the World Cup trail that suits me best for the years that I have ridden, but I don’t know exactly the way. At the same time, I feel better so far this year, says Kristoff.
Kristoff on Boasson-Hagen: – I can never forgive him.
There are also recent results from Germany: Kristoff won two stages in Germany. And in the German one-day race Eschborn-Frankfurt, he finished third, behind Jasper Philipsen and John Degenkolb.
– This is a season that hasn’t included what has made Alexander so incredibly good: the run-up to spring and then the Tour de France. So the question now is physical scarcity, says coach Stein Ørn.
However, you see signs of improvement:
– Alexander has gotten a good boost lately, and we see that in his values too. They are good and he is in the best condition he has been in so far in 2021, Ørn says.
– But the values that we can see say nothing about the total package. It’s just the surface. We will not have an answer for the rest until Sunday, he adds.
Kristoff has trained in Belgium the last few days and, on paper, he has a strong Norwegian team around him.
He thinks the World Cup track is not “insanely tough.”
– Do you characterize yourself for a season like this?
– No, not really. I have a contract for next year. It’s going well, says the 34-year-old.
After four years in the UAE team, the parties separate the teams after this year’s less fortunate season. Instead, Kristoff and Sven-Erik Bystrøm have signed a contract with Belgian Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert until next year. It’s a one-year contract from Kristoff.
– The website Ciclismonews It highlights ten riders who can win the World Cup on Sunday. Is your name not there?
– I was not a favorite in Bergen (2017) either, but I almost won there. It doesn’t mean anything to me that I’m not mentioned in a favorite poll. I don’t care, says Alexander Kristoff.