Alexander Kristoff at the Tour of Flanders.
Two-time Monument winner and four-time Tour de France stage winner Alexander Kristoff is on the move. The 34-year-old Norwegian and his compatriot Sven Erik Bystrøm are both headed to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux next season.
The Belgian squad – which jumped up to the WorldTour level at the start of this year – announced the news on Wednesday.
“It’s not easy to find a great leader for the classics and sprints, because they are really coveted. So it’s a pleasure to welcome Alexander Kristoff in our structure! I appreciate his image, his combative spirit to reach the top,” team general manager Jean-Francois Bourlart said of Kristoff via a press release.
Kristoff emerged as a major Classics contender and capable sprinter in his early seasons at Katusha, where he would ultimately spend six years. In a particularly impressive two-year stretch from 2014 to 2015, he won Milan-San Remo, two Tour stages, and the Tour of Flanders, among other big results. After moving to UAE Team Emirates in 2018, he picked up two more Tour stage wins and a Gent-Wevelgem title, to name only some of his achievements.
With his palmares, Kristoff will be one of the highest-profile riders at Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.
“Alexander is one of the greatest riders in the world and will be an important asset for the classics,” Bourlart said. “They are of great importance for a Belgian team and it’s exactly this environment what he was looking for. I am very pleased to see how extremely motivated he is to join us and to win races with our support. We’ve been talking a lot, particularly about his program and the equipment. I’m convinced that his experience and his notoriety will raise the level of our young riders as well.”
Bystrøm, 29, is a former under-23 world champion and former Norwegian national champion who jumped up to the WorldTour level with Katusha in 2015 and then joined UAE alongside Kristoff in 2018. A versatile talent, he has spent much of his career so far in support roles but narrowly missed out on a Vuelta a España stage win in 2018, finishing second in the final sprint after a long day in the break.
“His all-round capability seduced us,” said Bourlart. “He has a good level in the mountains, he’s pretty fast and he can perform at the classics. Among our 270 race days per year, there are at least 200 days which suit him, as a leader or as a helper. We will offer him a responsibility in the races he likes. In our structure, the former U23 World Champion will receive opportunities he didn’t always get in the big teams. I’m convinced that this 29-year-old rider will achieve success in our colors!”