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MILAN (VN) — Alexander Kristoff and Katusha will continue their relationship past 2015. The winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) on April 5 and much more re-signed with the Russian WorldTeam Friday.
Katusha announced the news via a press release. Kristoff has emerged as one of the top sprinters and one-day riders in the peloton.
In addition to Flanders this month, Kristoff won three stages and the overall of the Three Days of De Panne and Scheldeprijs. The results backed up 2014, when the 27-year-old made a significant step forward by winning Milano-Sanremo and two stages in the Tour de France.
“It is unbelievable how the team was going the last months. They all worked so hard for me. The teammates trust me and I trust them,” Kristoff said.
“For the first time I could work from a sprinter’s train. Our newly arrived riders all proved to be the right choices. I had a contract [until] the end of this year but my hope was to be able to stay with this winning team. It didn’t take us so long to reach a new agreement. I am very happy.”
Katusha management was equally pleased with the deal that will keep Kristoff on board.
“Alexander is happy with the deal we made, but we are more than exited as well,” general manager Viacheslav Ekimov said.
“We’ve built a strong relationship with him these last years and Alexander Kristoff proved to be the rider on which we can build further in the coming years. We can’t wait to see what we’ll be able to accomplish in the near and distant future.
“It was a pleasure as well to see that Alex’s victories were contagious to our other riders. In addition, Sergei Chernetckii, Luca Paolini, and Joaquím Rodríguez all won WorldTour races this season. We never had such a good spring as this one in 2015. It is the right moment to build further on the future of our team. Alexander Kristoff was the logical first rider to re-sign. More riders will follow.”
The team was unavailable when VeloNews asked for details on the contract. It is likely that he signed at least a two-year deal that would take him through the 2017 season.
Norway’s VG reports that Kristoff signed for 35 to 40m kroner, or $4.48-5.12 million, over two years, which fits well with the $2.5 million annual pay Kristoff was reportedly seeking.
Kristoff is leading a new era in Norwegian cycling after Thor Hushovd retired in 2014. He earned his “sprinter” title with wins in various stage races, including the Tour of Oman and the Tour de Suisse, and of course the sprinters’ monument Milano-Sanremo and two wins in the Tour de France.
Kristoff’s Flanders ride and a 10th-place result in Paris-Roubaix, however, show he is capable of much more than bunch kicks.
“Is this my evolution as a cyclist? I think this is where I can make it,” Kristoff said.
“At least when you get older, you get slower, and maybe sprinting will be more difficult for me. For the classics, you get even better sometimes because you can handle long distances and the hard racing better as you get older.”
He helped Katusha earn its 18 wins so far this season, the second highest total it shares with Sky. Etixx-Quick-Step leads the way with 19.
Katusha could re-sign Italian Luca Paolini in the coming days as well. He won the Ghent-Wevelgem classic March 29 and told VeloNews he wanted to continue with the team.
“I’m still at a good point in my career, I’m not going downhill,” Paolini said.
“When I can still be at the front, I’m having fun and it’s worth continuing.”