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Alexander Kristoff scores sprint victory at Clasica de Almeria

Norweigan veteran delivers first victory with new team Intermarché-Wanty Gobert in Spanish classic.

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Alexander Kristoff won the Clasica de Almeria to open his account for Intermarché-Wanty Gobert.

Kristoff delivered off the back of a strong leadout to beat Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa Samsic) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) at the close of a scrappy final in coastal city Roquetas de Mar.

The victory puts Kristoff’s career-tally on 82 in total, and marks the second of the season for his Belgian team after Biniam Girmay won at the Challenge Mallorca.

Kristoff, 34, switched to Intermarché-Wanty Gobert this off-season as the squad looks for more success in the classics and bunch sprints – and the Norweigan didn’t disappoint, winning after just nine days in his new kit.

A breakaway went early, but the flat final 80km of the race made a bunch sprint an inevitability.

Last remaining escapees Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) were reeled in as the bunch roared toward the final 15 kilometers of the 188km haul through southern Spain.

Kristoff’s Intermarché crew was joined by UAE Emirates, Israel-Premier Tech and Arkéa Samsic at the front of the pack as the sprint teams muscled for space at the front. A nasty crash brought down a handful of riders in the middle of the pack at around 5km to go, but all the top sprinters came through unscathed at the front of the peloton.

The final 2km saw the bunch descend into chaos as riders barged and bounced through a series of corners and roundabouts.

Intermarché led out the sprint on the inside of the curving final 200 meters as Bouhanni and then Nizzolo came up late through the middle.

Around six riders lunged for the line, but Kristoff edged the uphill charge after being unleashed by his teammates, opening his account for his new team and scoring his first victory since the Tour of Germany last August.

Clasica de Almeria top-3

  1. Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert): 4:22:39
  2. Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa Samsic): S.T
  3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech): S.T