• Alexander Kristoff (UAE - Team Emirates) wins Stage 1 of the Tour of Oman (Velo)Source: Velo
Alexander Kristoff unusually compared himself to new teammates after winning stage one of the Tour of Oman overnight that was tailor-made to sprinters less versatile than himself.
By
Sophie Smith

17 Feb 2019 - 11:11 AM 

Waiting by the podium in coastal town Suhar, the Norwegian drew on the results of new UAE Team Emirates teammates Fernando Gaviria and Jasper Philipsen when measuring what was his first victory of the season.

“All the sprinters in our team have already performed so it was about time I was also winning a race,” he said smiling. “I’m happy to win early for us in the season, it gives confidence. UAE Team Emirates has had a really good start with Gaviria in [the Tour of] Colombia, we had also a victory with Philipsen in Down Under. It’s been a good start for the team, and I’m personally happy I’ve also opened my account.”

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There has been conjecture in the media as to how the former Milan-San Remo and Tour of Flanders champion will operate with Gaviria, 24, especially joining the squad, with UAE Team Emirates sending both its sprint stars to the inaugural UAE Tour later this month.

Kristoff downplayed any potential for internal conflict by again referring to a group dynamic and subtly re-emphasising his immediate focus on the spring classics over pure bunch sprint victories that he can evidently still excel at but are unequivocally Gaviria’s forte.

“This will not change our positions in the team but for sure we have a new sprinter that has already performed, the whole team have performed well so it gives the whole team confidence coming into the classics,” Kristoff said.

The 31-year-old arrived in Oman off the back of a respectable showing at the Tour of Valenciana in which he finished fifth on stage two to Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and second on stage five to Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma).

The Tour of Oman has for a long time comprised part of Kristoff’s spring classics preparations and the win overnight was his ninth in 10 starts. Sprinters had a tailwind and kilometres of dead straight and pan flat roads to ready for the bunch kick, which he claimed comfortably from Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept – B&B Hotels) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). Andre Greipel (Arkea-Samsic) punctured within the final 10km and was not in the mix. 

“I actually never took my arse out of the saddle, I was seated the whole sprint. I think it was mostly about leg speed today,” said Kristoff. “I have pretty good leg speed, I worked on it during the winter time. So, when I saw I hit the front with 70 metres to go I was pretty confident, but you never know … I’m happy to take the win.

“When you’ve done the sprints and races before, you know how it can develop and how different scenarios can play out so it’s always an advantage to have done the race previously.”