After a Milan-San Remo victory and two vodka shots on a yacht, Alexander Kristoff aims for the remaining classics. Tomorrow he leads team Katusha in Belgium's Ghent-Wevelgem one-day classic.
"I really had no time to celebrate," Kristoff said to the press after racing a side event at yesterday's E3 Harelbeke. "We had some vodka shots on Igor Makarov's yacht in San Remo. I had two vodka shots and some guys had more.”
The 26-year-old Norwegian deserved the warming vodka shots after arriving to a grey and damp San Remo, Italy. He survived the cold temperatures and climbs, and out-sprinted Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish and Fabian Cancellara after seven hours on Sunday.
"There was a party, but we were there two hours before we had to leave to Milano. Makarov had one of his yacht parked in San Remo. He said it was one of his smallest ones but it was still big enough for me."
He had time only for the winner's celebrations and press conference, and of course, the vodka shots from the team's owner and Russian gas giant, Makarov. He returned to Milan and flew the next day to Belgium via Frankfort.
"I couldn't really celebrate," Kristoff said. "I was actually stuck in Frankfurt four five hours. They had a strike in Milan and we didn't make it to the connection flight. My only celebration was a 13th place in Waregem [Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday]."
The E3 Harelbeke race organiser invited Kristoff to headline a sprint competition while its big race covered the small Flemish roads. He competed on a short circuit among the fans watching in Harelbeke's square. He won, pocketed €1000 and realised that he draws more focus now.
"I'm used to have the pressure from my team but now maybe more pressure from everyone else," Kristoff said. "I don't really think about that. Even if I won San Remo, nothing's really changed. In San Remo, I survived and made a good sprint, it's not like I was the strongest guy in the pack."
He explained that he does take some confidence from San Remo ahead of Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
"I see it's possible to win the big races. I know my shape is good but still you really need to have the day and far amount of luck to win the big races."
Britain's Ben Swift (Sky) places third behind Alexander Kristoff and Fabian Cancellara in Milan-San Remo 2014
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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