We’re halfway through the 2015 WorldTour calendar, so this week I’m looking at the current top five riders in the individual rankings.
Today it’s the turn of Katusha’s Norwegian powerhouse Alexander Kristoff.
WorldTour races: 6.
Points: 237 (7 in stage races, 230 in one-day races).
- Paris-Nice: One stage win, one 4th place (7 pts).
- Milan-San Remo: 2nd (80 pts).
- E3 Harelbeke: 4th (40 pts).
- Gent-Wevelgem: 9th (6 pts).
- Ronde van Vlaanderen: 1st (100 pts).
- Paris-Roubaix: 10th (4 pts).
Stage races or one-day classics, pure sprints or power finishes, it’s all been meat and drink to Alexander Kristoff so far in 2015 as he has racked up win after win in a manner more than a little reminiscent of his retired countryman Thor Hushovd. Like Hushovd in his prime, he’s fast enough to at least trouble the best pure sprinters and occasionally beat them, but he also has the physical and mental strength to master the cobbles, small climbs and miserable weather that the pre-Ardennes spring classics throw at the peloton.
After narrowly failing to defend his Milan-San Remo title – he was pipped at the line by John Degenkolb – his performances in the WorldTour cobbled classics were a model of consistency, with top ten finishes at E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix sandwiching the jewel in the crown of his season, the Tour of Flanders, where he made the race-defining move with Niki Terpstra and then dismissed him in the sprint for the line with ease to clinch his second monument.
He’s been a busy boy in non-WorldTour races too. He notched up three stage wins and the overall at Three Days of De Panne, four victories across the Qatar and Oman races and a triumph at the sprinters’ semi-classic Scheldeprijs. He currently leads all riders with 11 wins so far in 2015.
Unsurprisingly, after a busy early part of the season, his racing programme for the next few weeks is relatively light. He’s scheduled for the Tour de France again, with a run-out at the Tour de Suisse as a tune-up ahead of that. He won’t maintain his position in the top five of the rankings once the grand tour boys start to gain momentum but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is already a spectacular season for this gentle giant.
Tomorrow: John Degenkolb.