BMC's Karsten Kroon impresses with long breakaway at Paris-Nice, returning to top form
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

BMC's Karsten Kroon impresses with long breakaway at Paris-Nice, returning to top form

by Jered Gruber at 1:03 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Dutchman happy with team's progress, once again aiming at Ardennes Classics

karsten kroonDutch one day specialist, Karsten Kroon, had a lackluster year with his first year with the BMC team in 2010, but things look to be turning around nicely for the 35 year old in 2011.

The former Amstel Gold runner up powered a two-up move for the better part of today's difficult, rainy slog to Sophia Antipolis in the seventh stage of Paris-Nice. When his breakmate, Eric Barthou tired, Kroon continued on solo. He was finally caught with 13 kilometers remaining after spending 120 kilometers in front. While an unsuccessful breakaway isn't exactly the epitome of success, in this case, along with his recent encouraging 20th overall finish at the Tour of Oman, it seems the Dutchman is returning to top form.

In a recent interview with Wielerflits, the former podium finisher at two of the three Ardennes Classics, admits that 2010 was not the year he had hoped for.

"For me, it was one of the worst years of my career. From the beginning, I had to wrestle with my form. It finally seemed to be coming back at the Amstel Gold Race, where I was ninth, but a few days later, I crashed at La Fleche Wallonne, and that was the prelude to much more misery."

His injuries from his Fleche Wallonne crash were severe. The former CSC rider fractured his nose, jaw, and eye socket when he hit a guardrail with his face with 80 kilometers remaining in the midweek classic.

Despite the terrible injuries, Kroon was able to return to racing just under two months later for the Tour de Suisse and earned a spot on the BMC Tour de France team. Unfortunately, there wasn't much good news to come from those two races or any races thereafter. Kroon just couldn't quite get back to the excellent form he had achieved for the Ardennes Triptych.

"I came back quickly, but I was certainly not 100%. The will to race was overwhelming. The chance to race [the Tour] was one of the reasons why I move to BMC, especially with the Tour starting in Rotterdam. I came through the Tour alright, but I also continued to bring along something extra."

Looking back at his first year with BMC and then ahead to what's on the near horizon for 2011, Kroon admits amazement for the progress that has been made in one year's time and can't wait for the possibilities that this year's Classics will certainly provide.

"I am very impressed with the progress the team has shown. There has been much thought put into the riders themselves, but also the materials and training. With a few different reinforcements, we will be better for the Spring Classics. For a race like the Tour of Flanders, the team will have a lot of potential with riders like Ballan, Hincapie, Burghardt, Van Avermaet, Phinney, and myself. I think we can certainly vie for the top spots."

While the cobbled classics are important, Kroon's heart lies in the Ardennes, and as a Dutchman, the Amstel Gold Race is the race of his dreams and his team recognizes his love and chances in the race and fully supported him in 2010. There's no reason to think that won't be the case in 2011.

"[Winning Amstel] would be great. I was already second in 2009, but it would be even nicer to win. Last year, the team with the likes of Cadel Evans supporting me, worked very well for me. Cadel sat in the wind for me and helped me move forward."

The rider, racing in his thirteenth year as a professional, says he is very happy in the BMC team and would like to finish up his career with the Swiss-sponsored, American team.

"I really want to spend a few more years with BMC. There is good growth in the squad, and I'm enjoying myself."

Kroon isn't entirely sure about how long he would like to continue racing, but one race stands above even his beloved Amstel Gold Race: 2012's World Championships in Valkenburg.

"I would definitely like to participate in the World Championships in Valkenburg in 2012. The chance to become World Champion in your own backyard is not given to a lot of riders. I once jokingly said that if I win Amstel, I would immediately stop racing, and then ride the 15 kilometers home. If I become World Champion, I might actually do it!"

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