Tour of Norway: Kristoff stage win lands yellow jersey
Despite lingering effects of a recent illness and his entire team being dropped inside the final 20 kilometres, Alexander Kristoff scores Stage 5 victory and takes leader’s jersey from fellow Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen …
Two-time Norwegian road race champion Alexander Kristoff won his record-tying eighth stage win at the Tour of Norway (UCI 2.HC) after sprinting to a Stage 5 victory in Drammen on Saturday.
“We were actually in a bit of trouble with 20km to go,” Kristoff explained to Eurosport. “The whole team got dropped in the crosswinds and had to struggle quite a lot to get back. I was a bit worried that me and my team used too much energy.
“Sven [Bystrøm] and [Roberto] Ferrari did awesome work to put me in a very good position and at the end I had enough legs to take the sprint, so I am very pleased with that,” continued the three-time Tour de France stage winner, who is in the midst of preparations for his seventh straight Tour start in July.
" To take yellow is a bonus because it was depending on how Boasson Hagen did in the [intermediate] sprints."
“He tried early and I think he paid a little bit at the end. For me I timed it quite well, and I managed to win, so I am very happy and proud.”
Aside from Kristoff’s win, one of the more intriguing moments of the race came off a two-man attack on the second of two categorised climbs at the 97-kilometre mark of the 159.7km race.
Duelling 2018 UCI world road race champions, 20-year-old Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb), Under-23, and 19-year-old Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Juniors, joined an early five-man breakaway with Luis León Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) before launching their own assault up the 11.4km Cat.1 climb (3.8% average gradient, 480 metres in elevation).
“I just wanted to join the moves today on the climb,” Hirschi told Eurosport after his near-60km breakaway effort. “I know it gets very difficult with the flatter final. At the end, I grabbed only three seconds, but if you never try, you never win. I just tried, and I hope the legs are still good tomorrow and I can try again.”
When asked if this marks the first of more showdowns to come with Evenepoel, Hirschi was wishfully optimistic.
“I really hope there are more battles for us in the future,” he said. “I am really looking forward to it.”
The Tour of Norway concludes on Sunday with a 175.1km sprint stage from Gran to Hønefoss.