Alexander Kristoff rebounds from Tour de France woe with RideLondon victory

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff put a smile back on his face after a Tour de France to forget.

Kristoff arrived at the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday with confidence low after a winless three weeks in France that was marked by a heavy fall when descending the Col d’Ornon on stage 17.

His Katusha-Alpecin team have almost half their riders out of contract at the end of this season and Kristoff, a former winner of the Milan San-Remo and Tour of Flanders, still has no idea where he’ll be racing next season.

But this victory – after a strong shift by his colleagues caught a determined two-man break just over a kilometre from the finish – should help the 30-year-old’s negotiations with team boss Jose Azevedo.

And he got his tactics spot on as the race opened up on The Mall, holding off Orica-Scott’s Magnus Cort Nielsen while Tour green jersey winner Michael Matthews completed the podium.

“After the Tour it’s just nice to bounce back with a win. After the Tour my body is still healing and I’m still pretty banged up, so I didn’t know how good I would be when the sprint started,” said the two-time Tour de France stage winner, who turns 31 on Wednesday.

‘I’ve had too many months without a win and I was very frustrated during the Tour, especially on the Champs Elysees when I was in a great position but I didn’t have the legs to do the job.

“It was great to win for the whole team. I was really suffering in the climbs but the team did an amazing job to bring back that breakaway. They were so committed and they were not getting much help from the others and I was a bit concerned for a moment that the break might actually stick.”

This is the first year the race, the richest one-day prize pot in cycling, has held World Tour status and that certainly changed how it unfolded compared to previous editions, with the pace, controlled by sprinter’s teams, kept high.

However, Matthews admitted the exertions of claiming and defending the green jersey meant he never felt confident of being competitive.

“It wasn’t my best day on the bike. Straight from the start I knew it wasn’t going to be my day,” he admitted.

“We came here and we brought a really strong team – we stuck to the plan and the best we were going to get was third.

“I did everything right after the Tour, I got enough sleep, I didn’t party, because I wanted to be really good this weekend. I just didn’t really have the legs to finish it off. In the end, it was good to have a sprint, but I’m happy with third.

“My legs were screaming at me the whole time, telling me to stop, but it was nice to see the crowd so enthusiastic and loving the racing.”

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