Alexander Kristoff: Winning at Tour de France with UAE Team Emirates is 'amazing'
The Norwegian rider pays tribute to teammate Dan Martin and discusses the challenges of preparing for a 21-day race
Alexander Kristoff underlined a strong first season with UAE Team Emirates by claiming victory on the final stage of the Tour de France on Sunday in Paris.
The Norwegian rider's victory has continued his good form since he joined from Team Katusha for this year's racing.
Kristoff, 31, talks to The National about his feelings on life with the team, his success, the challenges of preparing for a three-week long race and future targets on the horizon.
On enjoying life with UAE Team Emirates
“I have faith in the team and I’ve always had strong men at my side throughout the season. I have enjoyed riding here and my teammates always work impressively and I could not ask for more of them.
"I now have five wins with the team and we’re looking forward to many more. Hopefully my win on Sunday can inspire us to produce more fantastic results for the UAE fans, who are surely celebrating this victory in the Year of Zayed.”
On winning the final stage in Paris
“I felt good across most of the Tour, sticking to my game plan and not pushing myself too hard in the mountains. That allowed me to conserve some energy for the stages I wanted to perform well in.
"But to pick up a victory on the final stage – one that is so important to the sprinters – the feeling is amazing. I’ve dreamt about this victory for many years. It has started to sink in and I’m going to enjoy the moment, and I hope everyone in the UAE who has supported us over the past two seasons can enjoy it, too.”
On the tactics that led to the success
“I was a bit far back after the roundabout, but I had Roberto Ferrari leading me in and tried to get a good position. I saw Trek-Segafredo had created a really strong lead out so I decided to move onto their wheel.
"I knew I would have to push hard but my legs felt good, I passed John Degenkolb and then all of a sudden in the last 20 metres I realised I had it. Thankfully nobody managed to catch me.
"It was great to add another stage victory, and adds to my stage wins in Oman and Abu Dhabi earlier this season.”
Looking back on the 2018 Tour
“I’m very happy. I was unfortunate to not pick up a stage win earlier in the Tour, losing out to [Peter] Sagan on the line, but I’m satisfied with my performance – coming second in the points classification and picking up a stage win.”
How UAE Team Emirates performed overall
“I think the team and our fans across the world should be very pleased with the team’s performance. Every one gave it their all and we hope that it can be a platform to inspire our fans, particularly those in the UAE, to head out on their bicycles.
Dan had a good Tour and was unfortunate to not finish higher in the General Classification (GC), but the competition this year was such a high level. However, he showed on a handful of stages why he is one of the best GC riders in the world and he deservedly picked up the Combativity Award – which I congratulate him on.”
On the spirit within the riders in the team
“The team spirit has been very good and you find that camaraderie builds when the performances are good – so we are leaving the Tour all very happy with one another and the role each person played in helping us achieve the best results.”
On the work that goes in to preparing for the Tour
“Preparation is so important, and as professional riders we are reliant on our teammates and the wider staff to help us get to the start line in the best possible condition – physically and mentally.
"We have so many people behind the scenes working to make us the best we can possibly be – without them, none of this would have been possible.”
Updated: August 1, 2018 01:56 PM