Wednesday, May 18

Bystrøm detaches himself from Kristoff work: – He must think more about himself

– He must be confident and satisfied. He has to switch a little mentally and think more about himself and not Alexander. From the start of the season, he will have the opportunity to deliver results.

That is the message from sports director Valerio Piva to Sven Erik Bystrøm before the start of the season.

Haugesunderen did follow with Alexander Kristoff from UAE-Team Emirates and over to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux before this season, but the expectation is that the two will no longer be seen as one entity when the season starts immediately.

– He can take his career in a different direction

– I expect a lot from him. It is no coincidence that he became U23 world champion. Such an achievement means that you have a lot of talent. He became a professional immediately after that and was always a help to Alexander, but I think he has the capacity to do his own rides. He may be a surprise. We will support him and give him the opportunity in some races, on his own without Alexander. He can surprise everyone and take his career in a different direction – not just being an assistant rider, but winning himself, says Piva.

The Italian, who also worked with Kristoff and Bystrøm in Katusha, clearly has expectations for the 29-year-old who is embarking on his eighth professional season this year.

Bystrøm, who starts the season in the stage race Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in early February, is looking forward to getting started after a “very good” winter.

– It will be a small change. We will run many of the same races, but in a way he will run his own program. The team will also make room for my ambitions in a larger way than in UAE-Team Emirates. My goal is of course good placements in the classics and results on stages in the stage races. I get a little taken away from the pull and the team around Kristoff, so it can open up for me, he says from the team’s training camp in Albir, Spain.

Cobblestone classics, Ardennes classics and the Tour

Bystrøm quickly gets the opportunity to present himself to his new Belgian employer.

After the opening race in Spain, Volta follows the Algarve in Portugal, before heading to Belgium and the “opening weekend”: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the last weekend in February.

Then the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Belgian classics, the Ardennes classics Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège await, before the preparations for the Tour de France will be done away in the Tour of Norway and Switzerland around.

– The preparations have gone very well. There has been little illness and injuries, so it looks good before the start of the season, he says.

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