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Friday, May 20, 2022

Cyclist proud of Norway’s first medal

Alexander Kristoff surprised his fellow Norwegians by being the first on the country’s Olympic team to win a medal at the summer games that began over the weekend in London. He’s not widely known outside cycling circles, but those who do know him weren’t surprised at all.

Norway's Alexander Kristoff (right), savouring his bronze medal along with Rigoberto Uran of Colombia (left) who won the silver and Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan, who won the gold in the Men's Road Race. PHOTO: London 2012

“This is the result of an extremely long-term plan,” Kristoff’s coach and stepfather Stein Ørn told newspaper Aftenposten after the 25-year-old from Stavanger won the bronze medal in the Men’s Road Race on Saturday.

“Alex has always been a fighter who has set clear goals,” echoed sports director Gino van Oudenhove of the cycling team Joker Merida, which had Kristoff on board for three years. “He has always been very tough on himself, both in races and in training.”

Cycling fans in Norway also remember Kristoff as the 19-year-old who beat Norwegian cycling star and former world champion Thor Hushovd during the Norwegian Championships in Brumundal in 2007. Hushovd had to withdraw from this year’s Olympics because of illness, and wasn’t part of the competition in yesterday’s race.

Kristoff has been in the shadow of the veteran Hushovd and his Norwegian teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen, who’s also 25 but won fame and glory for his strong performances in the Tour de France. On Saturday, though, Hushovd wasn’t there and Hagen got stuck in a crowd of cyclists along with race favourite Mark Cavendish, while Kristoff maneuvered ahead as did rivals Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan, who won the gold medal, and Rigoberto Uran Uran of Colombia, who won the silver.

Hagen, meanwhile, also developed stomach troubled during the race and had to drop out a few kilometers before the finish line. He recovered, though, and was expected to take part in another men’s cycling event on Wednesday.

Kristoff himself said he was “”very, very proud” to win Norway’s first medal at the Olympics in London, but also admitted that he “hadn’t expected” to win. Nor is he sure whether he’ll take part in the next world championships in The Netherlands at the end of September.

“I’m not sure, the race doesn’t fit me so well and we’ve planned to travel to Mexico at that time,” said Kristoff, adding that his father-in-law was celebrating his 50th birthday there. “But we may need to discuss it now.” Kristoff didn’t hang around for much partying in London, leaving the day after his medal victory, to travel home to his family and infant son Leo.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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