After racing professionally for nearly two decades, including the last seven on the WorldTour, Rory Sutherland has ridden around the circuit more than once. The 37-year-old the Australian capital of Canberra has served in a supportive role for three of the sport’s top general classification riders, including Spaniard Alberto Contador at Tinkoff-Saxo from 2013 to 2014, Colombian Nairo Quintana at Movistar from 2015 to 2017, and most currently Irishman Dan Martin since joining UAE-Team Emirates last year.
But according to Sutherland, his Norwegian team-mate Alexander Kristoff may just be the toughest of the bunch.
Kristoff on a climb. Credit: Kåre Dehlie Thorstad
Image credit: Eurosport
“It’s like you and I spoke yesterday about working for leaders and trying to figure out what they want,” Sutherland told Eurosport following Kristoff’s overall victory at the Tour of Norway on Sunday. “We’ve found out in the last couple of days and the last couple of races with Alex [Kristoff] is the role of a domestique is to know what his legs feel like and not what your legs feel like. I have the benefit that I am probably a better climber than him.”
Holding only a one-second advantage on GC over rival countryman Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), and two over Stage 4 winner Edoardo Affini (Mitchelton-Scott), Kristoff’s grip on the yellow jersey appeared to be slipping over the final climb of the race 15 kilometres from the finish.
“My job is to stay with Alex and as soon as we get over the crest of the hill, I have to go as hard as I can to get him back to the group and we managed to get back in,” explained Sutherland, referring to his role to help the Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and most recent Gent-Wevelgem winner close a growing gap at the summit of the 4.3km category one climb near Hønefoss. “We were actually with the front group over the top of the second part of the climb.
“We were way over the red line,” he continued.
I don’t know what’s after red, but … I think he was in more red than I was.
Kristoff, a three-time Tour de France stage winner, finished third on sixth and final stage behind Stage 1 winner Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) and fellow Norwegian Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Ineos), who claimed the Stage 6 bunch sprint victory.
“Man, that guy can suffer, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who can suffer as much as Kristoff — it’s pretty impressive.”
For final stage and race results, click here.