Sprinting to the win: Stage 1 of Paris-Nice / ©

12/03/2015, CANYON Exclusive Interview

Kristoff sets his sights on the Classics

Alexander Kristoff hit the big time last season with an emphatic victory in the rain at Milan-San Remo. This year he’s looking to go even better. We caught up with the Katusha superstar during Paris-Nice as he gears up to make his mark on the biggest one-day races around: the Monuments.

Last season was your best ever with that Milan-San Remo win plus two Tour de France stages, how’s 2015 going for you?

AK: Yeah, indeed the last season was my best season as a pro so far. I was really happy to win a Monument like Milan–San Remo and two stages in the Tour de France, it was like a dream which came true for me. And of course, I would like to continue and get even more results in this season. I know I can improve and keep on developing. The beginning of the season was really good for me, I won 3 stages in the Tour of Qatar and a stage in the Tour of Oman. Now I've just won a stage in Paris–Nice, which is a really important race so I wanted a win there.

What are your biggest targets this year?

AK: My first big aim in the season is to try to repeat the win at Milan–San Remo. I know that will be hard, but I am motivated and want to do my best. I know the team will be there to provide me with full support. Later in the season I would like to do well in the Northern Spring Classics, especially in the Tour of Flanders and Paris–Roubaix. The last few seasons I was quite good in these races and I want to try to win or be on the podium. And of course, one of the biggest aims is obviously the Tour de France. There will be a new points system in place so we will have to see how that works out and if I can fight to win the Green Jersey. But, of course, stage victories will be the main goal for me.

You’re now a marked man going into the big Northern Classics, if you could only pick one, then which of the remaining Monuments would you like to win and why?

AK: My favourite race is theTour of Flanders. I really like this race as I think, it suits me very well. I can survive on the climbs and then I have time to recover of the descents, so I know I can be among the leaders in the final. In last two years I was very close to the podium so in this year I want to try to be on it. 

What would you say are your biggest strengths as a rider? Do you see yourself more as a classics specialist or bunch sprinter?

AK: It is difficult to say exactly. I know I am one of the fastest riders in the bunch, and I had a good sprint, for example, in Qatar and Oman. But of course, there are a number of really fast guys like Cavendish or Kittel. At the same time I can survive on the climbs, I can sprint after a long and hard distance. And I really like the classics races. So, both I think – I am a classics rider and I am a sprinter.

You had a lot of success riding the Ultimate CF SLX but started riding the new Aeroad CF SLX last season, how do those two bikes differ for you?

AK: I preferred the Ultimate CF SLXover the old Aeroad because it was stiffer. But when Canyon released the new Aeroad CF SLX, it felt faster and stiffer, like the Ultimate and even lighter than the old Aeroad. So since then the best bike for me has been the Aeroad CF SLX. I feel really good on it and have won a lot of races so I'm quite happy. For me now, the new Canyon Aeroad is one of the fastest bikes in the peloton, maybe even the fastest.

 How would you describe the Aeroad CF SLXin three words?

AK: Really fast, stable and stiff.

What kind of things do you change on the bike when taking on a race like Paris-Roubaix?

AK: Honestly, not too much. We use different wheels that are stronger and wider tyres. Then we also have the Rake Shift adapter for the front fork so we can change the wheelbase a little bit. I like to have it a little bit longer because it makes the bike more stable and I feel a little bit comfortable on the cobbles. That's actually all I do for races like Paris-Roubaix but in general I am happy riding the bike I use in any other race.

Would you say you give the team mechanics a hard time or are you fairly easy going when it comes to setup?

AK: Maybe I give mechanics a hard time with my saddle as I have to adjust it from time to time when the padding gets worn and it feels lower, but otherwise I don’t think I’m too annoying for the mechanics!

Finally, who for you is the next big thing in Team Katusha? Which riders should we be keeping an eye out for?

AK: I think Anton Vorobyev has great potential. He has already had good results and is strong in the time trial. In the near future he could win a lot on the road because of those time trial skills. Also we have Sergei Chernetckii, he is still quite young and has real potential, so I think he can become a really strong pro rider.

The early season has been a success but the biggest challenges are still to come. Expect to see Kristoff at the front of the pack playing a key role in the Monuments. We cannot wait.