Alexander Kristoff wins in California
It was a stage Alexander Kristoff was unsure of at the start of the day – would the climbs be too hard for him or would he still have the answer in a fast sprint to take the win? Once over the last climb, Team Katusha’s Norwegian fast man had the answer he needed – he put his team on the front and kept them there through the closing laps in the city of Santa Rosa. With 200m to go he came off the wheel of teammate Michael Mørkøv and gunned for the line, taking the victory just ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), marking his first win in the Amgen Tour of California in two appearances. The win was the 8th win for Kristoff in the 2016 cycling season and marks the first win in the USA for Team KATUSHA.
– We had to chase hard and still in the end Peter Sagan was right there with me even though he had been out there by himself all that time. Unbelievable. I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I could tell I was OK. I was tired, but I knew everyone else was also tired. The guys all did such a good job. It’s always good to finish it off with a win and it shows I am going the right way for the Tour de France, – said Alexander Kristoff.
Kristoff and Sagan were joined on the stage podium by third place finisher Danny Van Poppel of Team Sky.
Stage 7 returned to Santa Rosa, an area that has hosted many stages of the Amgen Tour of California. The 175,5km stage featured 6 rated climbs including the category 1 King Ridge Road. From a break Peter Sagan went solo and held 2 minutes to the peloton, with the yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe in the group. Sagan tried to hold his advantage but once the majority of the climbs were behind and the groups were coming back to him, he sat up to try his luck in the circuits, but Kristoff had other plans and used his team to perfection to earn the victory.
Etixx-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe held on to the race lead, still ahead of BMC teammates Rohan Dennis by 16-seconds and 38-seconds to Brent Bookwalter. Team KATUSHA’s Jurgen Van den Broeck currently holds tenth place at +1:48 on the general classification.
– Tomorrow is a really flat stage and I think there will be many sprinters that want to win. So we will see how things go, but of course we want to win again, – concluded Alexander Kristoff.
Stage 8 is the race final in Sacramento at 138km. The circuit race takes place in the stage capital of Sacramento with laps around Capital Park. The profile is basically flat.
Photo credit: (c) Tim De Waele