Frankfurt: UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff will look to retain his Eschborn Frankfurt title this week as he heads to Germany, captaining a strong line-up of riders hoping to continue the team’s fine run of form.
Kristoff has been one of the team’s best performers over the past two seasons and will be looking to build on his top spot at Gent-Wevelgem and podium place at the Tour of Flanders when he arrives in Germany this week.
Tasked with supporting Kristoff are teammates Roberto Ferrari, Rui Oliveira, Oliviero Troia, Rory Sutherland, Sven Erik Bystrom and Norwegian National Champion, Vegard Stake Laengen.
The 58th edition of the race will see the peloton tackle eight categorised climbs over a 187.5km route. Starting out in the Eschborn suburb of Frankfurt, the riders will head north-west and start the ascent to the first climb at just over 32km. From there on, it is a hilly route with relentless climbs for over 100km. However, should the peloton come over the final climb in a bunch, spectators can expect another thrilling sprint finish, in which UAE Team Emirates’ Kristoff has emerged victorious in four of the past five seasons.
Commenting ahead of the race, Kristoff said: “Four successes in a row make this race a special event for me. I have many great memories that are added year after year. I think I can be so competitive in this race because we usually reach the sprint after a very intense event. I can’t ask for anything better given my characteristics.”
Whilst Kristoff and the team fight for one-day honours in Germany, former World Champion Rui Costa will lead a UAE Team Emirates line-up across seven stages at the Tour of Romandie (April 30 — May 5). The Portuguese all-rounder has finished in the General Classification (GC) top 10 a remarkable five times, and will be counting on the support of his teammates Simone Consonni, Edward Ravasi, Simone Petilli, Aleksandr Riabushenko, Manuele Mori and Tom Bohli to propel him to another positive result.
The Tour de Romandie tasks riders with hilly and mountainous stages across the French-speaking region of Switzerland. An established race on the UCI World Tour, the Tour de Romandie is traditionally a warm up for any riders with an eye on the Tour de France and spectators will have the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in cycling go head-to-head here. With over 2,700m of climbing, Stage one should prove too stern a test for any out-and-out sprinters and a small bunched finish among the all-rounders is to be expected.
Stage two will favour the sprinters a little more and spectators could be in for a sprint finish in which UAE Team Emirates’ Simone Consonni should be a contender. It’s another hilly route on Stage three, with four categorised climbs rounded off with an uphill finish that favours a puncheur. Stage four is much of the same, with four difficult categorised climbs, before a mammoth category one summit finish; this is one for the pure climbers and has potential to open up the race for the GC. On the final stage, riders will put their speed to the test on an Individual Time Trial (ITT) that could be pivotal in deciding the overall standings.
Costa said: “The Tour de Romandie is a race that I always liked, also for its spot on the calendar at the end of the Ardennes Classics. I climbed on the lowest step of the podium three times, taking advantage of my good form after racing in Belgium and the Netherlands. I hope to take a similar approach again this year, coming out of the Ardennes Classics and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in good shape. Looking at the overall, you have to consider this year the two time trials, suited to specialist. They will impact the results.”