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“It was a relief to win because on the last lap I wasn’t sure the race would end with a sprint. It was a tough final to control and every team was struggling to get organized."

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ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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WORLDTOUR

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31.08.2015 @ 10:00 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) took the twentieth victory of the 2015 season and his first every victory at the GP Ouest France-Plouay, with yet another powerful, high-speed sprint finish that has become a trade mark for the Norwegian and his strong Katusha squad.

 

Kristoff is virtually unbeatable when his team Katusha leads him out and he launched the sprint pushing a huge gear after lead out man Jacopo Guarnieri moved over. With the road rising slightly, his rivals were unable to match Kristoff’s pace and he won by over a bike length ahead of Simone Ponzi (Southeast) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin).

 

Kristoff scored 80 UCI WorldTour points for his victory at the GP Ouest France-Plouay and so climbed from fifth to fourth in the latest individual rankings with a total of 403 points. He won the Tour of Flanders in the spring and was second in the recent Vattenfall Cyclassics WorldTour race in Hamburg. He confirmed his class for the one-day Classics again at the GP Ouest France-Plouay.

 

Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) remains the leader of the individual UCI WorldTour ranking. He has gathered a massive 532 points after his successful season. He is currently riding the Vuelta a España and so is expected to score even more ranking points when the final Grand Tour of the season ends on September 13 and the rankings take into account the Vuelta a España. Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) is second in the individual ranking with 422 points and is also in action in Spain. Giro d’Italia winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is third with 407 points.

 

Thanks to Kristoff’s victory, his team Katusha also jumped to the top of the team rankings in the UCI WorldTour. The Russian team jumped from third to first place and now has a total of 1270 points. Team Katusha moved past Team Sky, who is now second with 1246 points. Movistar is third with 1242 points. All three teams will be fighting to the end of the season for every ranking point.

 

Spain leads the nations rankings with 1582 points. Great Britain is second with 973 points and Colombia is third with 814 points.

 

Yet again the GP Ouest France-Plouay was a testing race with a thrilling finale. An early break entertained the estimated 50,000 crowd on the early laps of the hilly circuits until the big favourites and their teams took control. In the final hour of racing a dangerous attack went clear and then talented young Kazakhstani rider Alexey Lutsenko (AstanaPro Team), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing Team) emerged from the move to create a select trio. They managed to carve out a lead and fought hard as the peloton tried to chase them.

 

The final time up the Ty-Marrec climb proved decisive for the break, with several riders managing to power across the gap. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) made a solo attack with 1.5km to go as he tested his form for the UCI World Championships. However the Team Katusha was riding for Kristoff and ensured the front group of 50 or so riders came back together on the fast descent to the finish.

 

“It was a relief to win because on the last lap I wasn’t sure the race would end with a sprint,” Kristoff admitted. “It was a tough final to control and every team was struggling to get organized. Fortunately my team mastered things even if we couldn’t take it for granted the race would end with a sprint. Because it did, it makes even more beautiful victory.”

 

Kristoff and many of the riders in action in the GP Ouest France-Plouay will travel to Canada for the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec on September 11 and then the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal on September 13. The two one-day races are the only UCI WorldTour races in North America and this year provide vital racing before the UCI World Road Championships in Richmond in the USA.

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