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Ronde van Vlaanderen

Alexander Kristoff is ready to spice up his impressive track record

On Sunday, the Flemish classics campaign will reach its climax in the Tour of Flanders (1.UWT, 03/04). Since 2017, the event connects Antwerp and Oudenaarde in 272 kilometer. The parcours of this 106th edition did not change much compared to previous editions and after the first 100 kilometer without obstacles the peloton has to cover eighteen climbs and seven cobble sections in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes.

From the Main Square in Antwerp, the riders will reach Oudenaarde after 110 kilometer via Haaltert, one of the “Villages of the Ronde” and residence of Aimé De Gendt. Once they have covered the cobbles of the Lippenhovestraat and the Paddestraat, they will start the difficulties in the Flemish Ardennes with the first of three passages on the Old Kwaremont halfway through the race. On their way to the second passage on the Kwaremont, they will encounter the Kortekeer, Achterberg, the cobbles of the Holleweg, Kerkgate and Jagerij, the Molenberg, Berendries, Berg Ten Houte and the Kanarieberg. The famous duo Old Kwaremont has to be covered afteer 215 kilometer of racing and is immediately followed by the Koppenberg and the Taaienberg. After the Kruisberg, the peloton will accomplish the duo Old Kwaremont-Paterberg a second time before tackling the final 13 kilometer towards the finish in Oudenaarde.

Just like in Milano-Sanremo, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will line up for the second Monument of the season with former winner Alexander Kristoff. The winner of the edition of 2015 escaped from a strong rider group with 30 kilometer to go and won a duel with Niki Terpstra. In addition to this success, the Norwegian rider also finished twice on the podium and four times in the top five.

Kristoff will receive the support of a very experienced team composed with Italian rider Andrea Pasqualon, 12th in Dwars door Vlaanderen and 14th in Ghent-Wevelgem, Frenchman Adrien Petit, who participates for the eighth time, Belgian riders Aimé De Gendt and Tom Devriendt, and Dutchmen Boy Van Poppel and Taco van der Hoorn. The selection is directed by Aike Visbeek, Steven De Neef and Hilaire Van der Schueren.

« I consider my victory in the Tour of Flanders as the most important and beautiful victory of my career. Especially thanks to the way I managed to distance the strongest riders as a sprinter. I'm impressed myself by my track record for this Monument. Everyone remembers my victory in 2015, but in addition I finished six times in the top five in ten participations. My two third places in the recent editions of 2019 and 2020 make me dream about another success. My endurance was probably my main asset in achieving this series of good results. I always climbed the hills at the same speed after 230 kilometer of racing as in the beginning. This Sunday, the first crucial point is the second passage of the Old Kwaremont, followed by the Paterberg, the Koppenberg and the Taaienberg. The decision probably won't be made there, but no matter what happens you need to be there. My best chance to finish on the podium is probably by seizing an opportunity in which I can avoid the battle between the favorites on the climbs. With a good day I'm convinced that I can brighten our excellent classics campaign even more this Sunday. The success of Biniam Girmay in Ghent-Wevelgem gave a new dimension to our motivation and strengthened the fantastic atmosphere which reigns since I joined the team. I feel good in the team and together we will fight for the top positions in the peloton and honor our jersey. »


General Classification


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