Still work to do before Milan-San Remo defence, says Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff may have four stage wins under his belt in 2015, but he admits he's still some way away from being ready to defend his Milan-San Remo crown

Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff says he still has work to do ahead of the classics despite winning stage three of the Tour of Oman on Wednesday, his fifth victory of 2015 to date.

Kristoff only started his sprint in Al Mussanah with 100 metres remaining, but still managed to overcome stage one winner Andrea Guardini (Astana) in the race for the line.

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The reigning Milan-San Remo champion added this triumph to three from last week’s Tour of Qatar, but admitted that yesterday’s stage into Al Bustan – which featured the challenging, Flanders-esque climb of Al Jissah five kilometres from the finish – showed he has work to do before he defends his Milan-San Remo title on March 22.

“In the sprints it’s going well,” said Kristoff. “We brought in Jacopo [Guarnieri] for the lead-outs this year, and he’s done a very good job to help put them together.

“Before, we could get blown away in the lead-outs, but now we really stick together.

“A win on the last day here is possible, but we still have to pass some climbs before then, and yesterday’s stage was too hard for me.

“I was hoping to do a bit better yesterday, so there’s still some work to do.”

Kristoff has an extensive spring programme ahead, starting with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne next weekend. He will also race E3, Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix this year.

“It will be hard for all of us going back to Europe from here,” he added, referencing today’s 35°C heat today.

“I’ve always struggled there [at Het Nieuwsblad]. I hope it’s not snowing, but it’s a good way to get started in the classics, it’s good to find your rhythm of racing in Belgium.”