RODEZ, France (VN) — Veteran classics specialist Karsten Kroon says the injury that will sideline Tour of Flanders defending champion Nick Nuyens is bad news for Saxo Bank.
Kroon, back at Saxo Bank after two years with BMC Racing, said that losing Nuyens to a fractured hip in an opening-day crash at Paris-Nice will only make it harder for him to make a bid for victory in the upcoming spring classics.
“It’s a shame we lost Nick,” Kroon told VeloNews before the start of Wednesday’s stage. “It’s bad for him, it’s bad for the team and it’s bad for me. It’s always better to have a few strong guys for the classics.”
Kroon, 36, is racing Paris-Nice to hone his classics form ahead of the first major goals of his season. The Dutch rider is considered an expert at the Amstel Gold Race. He lives in the area and trains throughout the year on the hilly, narrow roads of the Limburg region of Holland.
Second at Amstel Gold in 2009, third at the 2006 Flèche Wallonne and three times in the top-10 at the Tour of Flanders, Kroon will now be looking to step up following the bad news that Nuyens will likely miss the northern classics.
“I will race all the classics except Roubaix,” he continued. “I will be at Milan-San Remo, but the races that best suit me are Flanders and Amstel Gold.”
A winner of a Tour de France stage, Kroon suffered through an injury-plagued 2011 season. He missed out of the northern classics last year after crashing out of Flanders with a broken collarbone. He returned in top form for the Vuelta a España, only to crash heavily off a narrow descent on the Puerto de Ventana in the third week of the Spanish tour.
After struggling through last season, Kroon says he’s more motivated than ever to return to top form in the classics.
“I am healthy and motivated. I feel strong for the classics,” he said. “I want to get back on the podium and maybe try to win one. Any one would be fine.”