Defending Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff issued another warning shot to his rivals this afternoon, as he won his second Tour of Qatar stage in three days at Mesaieed.
Kristoff went early in the sprint, but still beat Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and Britain’s Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEdge), among others.
The Norwegian has never won two races before at this stage of a season; in fact, his second win of 2014 was that of San Remo on March 23.
“I’m normally a slow starter, I didn’t expect to win here,” said the 27-year-old. “I’m perhaps going better than I thought I would be.
“Because there was a breakaway today, everybody was fresh in the final 10km. I lost my lead-out many times, but they put me in a good position eventually. I had to work hard to get to the front at the end.
“I felt I had to go early [in the sprint], otherwise somebody would jump from behind. So I started a little bit easy, and I tried to go harder. I was tired but I just held Sagan off. It was close.”
Nonetheless, the Katusha rider downplayed suggestions that his opponents should be more worried about his form ahead of the classics based on his two wins here.
“Classics are a different story, but I’m better than last year,” he said. “If I do the classics better, then they can be worried.”
Kristoff will ride Omloop Het Nieuwsblad [February 28] and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne [March 1] as part of his build up to defending his La Primavera title on March 22.