Kristoff battles on in Tour de France

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Norwegian cyclist Alexander Kristoff announced on Monday night he would not be dropping out of the Tour de France as feared. Kristoff has been plagued by stomach problems throughout the event, but said his form had improved during Monday’s mountain stage.

Alexander Kristoff, shown here in the Tour de Fjords race last year, was winning high praise on Monday after placing first in the tough Milano-Sanremo race on Sunday. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Alexander Kristoff, shown here in the Tour de Fjords race last year, decided not to pull out of the Tour de France on Monday night despite ongoing stomach problems. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Kristoff rode Sunday’s 70 kilometre stage with severe stomach pain, and it was feared he would drop out during the 10th stage on Monday, reported news bureau NTB. “My stomach was better, so it went okay right until the last hill,” the Katusha team rider told the Norwegian press afterwards. “Then I felt it again quite a lot, but then it was only five kilometres to the finish line.”

He eventually finished the stage in 172nd place, 32.29 minutes behind Italian stage winner Vincenzo Nibali. Kristoff has struggled to absorb nutrition throughout the tour, and dropped three kilograms on a diet of plain rice over the last few days. The Norwegian admitted he had not eaten enough going into the race and only snacked a little along the way, knowing food would worsen his stomach pains.

“Along the way I knew that I was in control, but it was tough,” Kristoff said. “I had worse legs and did not have so much energy, but my stomach was better.” He said he was looking forward to Tuesday’s well-timed rest day, and would take a stroll and try to relax.

Katusha’s press contact Vitalij Abramov said the team was doing everything to help Kristoff finish the Tour de France. “Normally, Kristoff finishes regardless,” he said. “We are not going to take him out as long as it’s possible to ride. The doctor is doing everything possible so he’s able to continue.”

Kristoff is the only Norwegian competing in “Le Tour” this year, after injury and illness ruled out Norway’s other big-name cyclists.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate