Kessiakoff on Nibali: “If anyone can beat Froome, it’s him”
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kessiakoff on Nibali: “If anyone can beat Froome, it’s him”

by Kyle Moore at 1:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Swedish rider hoping to rediscover spark from 2012

Fredrik KessiakoffAfter a sparkling 2012 season, Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) was expected to be a top lieutenant for Vincenzo Nibali in his first year with the Kazakh squad, while also aiming to expand on the career-altering victories he grabbed in 2012.

While he did help Nibali to the Giro d’Italia title in May, Kessiakoff did not perform to the standard he had set for himself in 2013, and now the Swede hopes to get back to his top level in the upcoming season.

After scoring 638 points in the Cycling Quotient ranking system in 2012, Kessiakoff scored just 42 this year. Boosting his total in 2012 were two huge individual time trial victories – the first in the Tour de Suisse over Fabian Cancellara, and the second on stage 11 of the Vuelta a España, topping Alberto Contador and Chris Froome.

With the first half of the Swedish rider’s calendar already set for 2014, Kessiakoff has multiple targets to aim for as he trains through the holidays. He’ll ride an extensive program during the year’s first half, shooting for a start in the Tour de France supporting Nibali, in whom the Swede has total confidence.

“I hope it’s a different year, because this season was very difficult for me. I had no success,” Kessiakoff said according to Biciclismo. “You could say that I was suffering all season. I think I ended up very tired after 2012, and I was never able to relax and get good feelings.

“I had the best results I’ve ever had in 2012, and yet, in 2013, nothing. I did not follow my progression and I want to get back to that. I’m looking to prove myself, to prove that I’m a good rider.”

Early and midseason highlights for Kessiakoff are scheduled to be the Tour de San Luis, Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de Romandie, and the Tour de Suisse. He is on the list of riders being considered for the Tour de France, and Kessiakoff hopes he gets his chance.

“I hope to race it and help Vincenzo, although I know there are other good riders, which I logically accept,” Kessiakoff continued. “I hope to reach good condition and earn it.”

Although Nibali humbly refuses to call the upcoming Tour a two-man race, Kessiakoff holds fewer of those reservations.

“If anyone can beat Froome, it’s him,” Kessiakoff insisted of his team leader. “Froome is the number one favourite. But among several other riders, to me, the first is Nibali. It’s good for the team, because everyone will believe in him. He has shown that he can shoot at a high level all year. If he has the best form of his life, I think he can beat Froome.”

Still a relatively recent transfer from the mountain bike, Kessiakoff indicated that he’s still adjusting to life as a road racer. “The most difficult part was perhaps the amount of racing,” he explained. “In mountain biking, you compete in a race, go home, recover, train, and get ready for another race the following weekend. Now you’re always on the edge of training and competing. Being competitive in every race is what demonstrates the true champions – especially in the last week of a Grand Tour.”

Kessiakoff knows that in a currently difficult market, a rider can go from time trial wins to unemployed quickly, so the Swede isn’t looking too far ahead.

“I hope I can be at a high level, and be motivated. At this time, I hope to continue racing three or four years, and then we’ll see. These are delicate times, with the disappearance of teams,” Kessiakoff stated.

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