Alexander Kristoff once again showed his strength in the Classics as he fought his way to a third place finish at the Tour of Flanders.
The Norwegian powerhouse, who won the Tour of Flanders in 2015, was able to make the front chasing group of 15 as they attempted to bring back the solo breakaway man – Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) – who made an attack in the third and final pass of the Oude Kwaremont with 18km to go and eventually won the race.
In the final few kilometres Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was able to attack off the front for second place, with Kristoff outsprinting the bunch to take a well-deserved third place, 17 seconds behind Bettiol.
Sven Erik Bystrom and Fernando Gaviria rode in the leading group until the final 20km, before the pace and parcours became too challenging for them to remain at the front of the race. Jasper Philipsen crashed mid-race and while he was able to continue, he later retired and did not finish.
Kristoff said: “It could seem that the race was very tactical but, as far as I’m concerned, it was a race that was always pushed to the limit. I came to the foot of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg for the last time with very tired legs and I was a bit surprised to see that I was able to stay with the main group.
“It was then that I realised they were all very tired too. The situation worked better than I could have imagined and I tried to take advantage of it. The result makes me happy. I have a good shape, I have high morale after these races, I can count on a team that is racing well and I hope that these conditions will recur in a week in Paris-Roubaix.”
Kristoff’s performance delivered the third podium finish for UAE Team Emirates in a Belgian WorldTour race in 2019. It adds to his win at Gent-Wevelgem and the second place for Gaviria at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.
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