Kristoff’s dramatic end to ‘Le Tour’

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Norway’s new cycling star Alexander Kristoff suffered a flat tire and the loss of a supporting teammate on the last day of this year’s Tour de France, but still managed to finish second on the final lap into Paris. That left him with two stage victories and three in which he finished an impressive second.

Norway's Alexander Kristoff (at right, in red) surged towards the finish line of the Tour de France in Paris on Sunday but narrowly lost out to Marcel Kittel (left) of Germany. Kristoff ended with two stage victories and three second-place finishes. PHOTO: AP/Laurent Rebours/NTB Scanpix

Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (at right, in red) surged towards the finish line of the Tour de France in Paris on Sunday but narrowly lost out to Marcel Kittel (left) of Germany. Kristoff ended with two stage victories and three second-place finishes. PHOTO: AP/Laurent Rebours/NTB Scanpix

Kristoff lost to Marcel Kittel of Germany, who also won the final surge into Paris last year as well. Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France overall and Kittel told TV2 that he was glad and relieved that he beat his Norwegian rival by the smallest of margins on Sunday. “I wasn’t sure I would manage, Kristoff hung on so well,” Kittel told TV2.

Kristoff himself thought he’d be able to beat Kittel, “but he had a little extra gear and I couldn’t match it, unfortunately.”

Kristoff, who only started cycling professionally a few years ago, was nonetheless pleased with his Tour de France performance. He was the only Norwegian riding in the race this year, after sickness and injury knocked out former top competitors like Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

“I had hoped for one stage victory, so to win two and place second three times is better than I’d expected,” Kristoff said as he tried to sum up the last three tough but exciting weeks. “I’ve dreamed about winning a stage here since I was a kid and I won two, so it was better than I’d dreamed about.”

Now he’s mostly glad the long race is over. He told his hometown newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad a few days ago that “now I just really want to get to Paris and be finished with this.” He was soaking wet, cold and exhausted after placing third in the race that ended in Bergerac.

“I feel good, but I’m tired in my head and of everything, really,” he added later. “It will be good to get some time off now.” Then it was home to Stavanger, but he’s already thinking about next year’s race.

“I accomplished a lot here and I will try again next year, to do at least as well,” he said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund