Norwegian cyclist Alexander Kristoff claims he could forget all the other disappointments of this year’s cycling season when he sailed over the finish line first in the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on Sunday.
“This is so cool, so great!” Kristoff exclaimed right after his triumph in the fabled city with its own Arc de Triomphe. His last-stage victory came after racing a total of 3,351 kilometers around France over the last three weeks, against 176 riders from 22 teams. The overall race itself was won by Geraint Thomas of the UK, riding for Team Sky.
“This saved my season in a way,” he told state broadcaster NRK. “It’s been okay, but not tops. I needed a big victory.”
He finally got it, after toiling through another Tour de France and failing to win earlier laps where he was favoured. “I didn’t ride well enough in the classics,” he said, “reasonably strong but without the best results. There’s been a lot of ‘almosts,’ but finally I was on top again.”
And with what commentators called “the most beautiful you can get,” riding into Paris for the grand finalé of cycling’s grand race. Kristoff called it the “perfect way to end the year.”
The victory marked his third for a stage of Tour de France, and four years since the last one. At age 32, Kristoff is now a veteran on the cycling circuit, riding for UAE Team Emirates and keen to keep going, commenting that “I’ve waited four years to win (again) in the Tour de France.”
Norway can now claim a total of 18 stage victories in the Tour de France. In addition to Kristoff’s three, Edvald Boasson Hagen also has three, while the retired Thor Hushovd holds the most at 10. Kurt Asle Arvesen and Dag Otto Lauritzen had one each.
Edvald Boasson Hagen was among the first to congratulate Kristoff on Sunday: “It was impressive and very strongly done, and fun that there was a Norwegian victory right at the end.”