UAE Team Emirates announced a super-seven line up for three races in Belgium next week, reigning European Champion Alexander Kristoff leading the team as they look to secure their first race win of the 2018 UCI World Tour season.
The 30-year-old, who finished fourth in Milan-San Remo on Saturday, will be supported by an experienced team including Filippo Ganna and Ben Swift.
Joining them will be the promising young trio of Oliviero Troia, Simone Consonni and Sven Erik Bystrøm.
The racing starts on Friday with the E3 Harelbeke, a sort of mini Tour of Flanders, with 15 hills to tackle over a distance of 206km.
Following this, the team will travel a short period across Flanders to take part in the Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, where sprint king Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) will be bidding to win the famous 250km race for a record third time.
The gruelling five day block of racing will conclude with the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday – a 181km race with 12 climbs and three cobble sections.
“We are going in Belgium to do well so I expect some good things from Kristoff, and also from our second line Ben Swift, who was particularly strong in Milan-San Remo,” said Sports Director Mario Scirea.
“We will look for some strong efforts from Bystrøm and Consonni, young riders that have the right characteristics for these types of races.”
Line-up: Alexander Kristoff (Norway), Filippo Ganna (Italy), Ben Swift (Great Britain), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway), Marco Marcato (Italy), Oliviero Troia (Italy), Simone Consonni (Italy).
Alexander Kristoff continued his strong start to life at UAE Team Emirates as he secured a fourth-place finish in the first big classic of the season, the Milan-San Remo.
The reigning European Champion survived an early crash to finish just outside the podium places, behind Australian Caleb Ewan and France’s Arnaud Demare.
Vincenzo Nibali made a late solo break to win the race – the first time an Italian rider has won since Filippo Pozzato in 2006.
The 2014 Tour de France winner, nicknamed ‘The Shark’, shook off the sprint favourites on the Poggio hill 10km from home in the 294km race through north-western Italy.
It was a commendable performance nonetheless from Kristoff, who said: “I’m pretty upset for not being able to get on the podium, but on the other hand, I can’t help but be content for this fourth place since I pulled out of Paris-Nice with the flu.”
“During the race, I didn’t feel super. On the Cipressa, my legs felt empty, then on the Poggio, it seemed to me that I was slightly better, but in the sprint, my legs weren’t that great.
“This is a fourth place different from last year since I won the sprint behind the escape of three riders. If I repeated that this time, I would’ve been second.
“The podium was my minimum goal, but since I didn’t have super legs, this placing is not that bad either. Now, I’ll concentrate on the Northern Classics.”
Meanwhile, best for UAE Team Emirates were: Ben Swift (54th), Simone Consonni (93rd), Diego Ulissi (103rd) and Filippo Ganna (161st).
UAE Team Emirates announced a super-seven line up for Saturday’s Milan-San Remo race, with Abu Dhabi Tour stage winner and reigning European Champion, Alexander Kristoff leading the team as they look to secure their first race win of the 2018 UCI World Tour season.
Kristoff, who is aiming to add to his 2014 Milan-San Remo victory, will be supported by an experienced team including; Diego Ulissi, Marco Marcato and Ben Swift, the latter of whom has finished on the podium twice in this race – third in 2014 and 2nd in 2016.
Joining them will be the promising young trio of Oliviero Troia, Simone Consonni and Sven Erik Bystrøm. The riders will be guided along the 300km route by Sports Director Mario Scirea and his colleague Marco Marzano.
Kristoff is targeting the Spring Classic as one of his main goals for 2018. “I’ve always really liked Milan-San Remo and its appeal increased when I won in 2014. I already have a number of races under my belt already this season and have set up so that I can be in top form for the Spring Classics. I’ve been held back by a few health issues and at the beginning of Paris-Nice I had some days where I didn’t feel very well, but I think I’m better now and I’ve been working hard to get back to full fitness. I am 100 per cent focused on this race. The objective is to figure as a major player and I’m confident I have the right team to support me and put me in a strong position.”
With a distance of 300km to tackle, Milan-Sanremo is the longest one-day race of the year and a huge test for riders so early in the season. The course, the first of the five cycling monuments, remains unchanged from last year, with riders departing from Milan and heading south-west to the Mediterranean coast.
The opening 150km of the race could be an opportunity for the breakaway to build up a considerable lead on the peloton, before the race opens up as riders reach the coast. Five short climbs in the final 55km could have a big influence on the race outcome, but the world-class sprinters of this year’s tour should be able to attack them and provide fans with a thrilling sprint finish on the flat 2km run-in to San Remo.