February 17, 2016 (Oman) – Unlike the previous years when stage 1 of the Tour of Oman traditionally finished with a bunched sprint, the battle between the GC contenders occurred as soon as day 1 and its hilly final part heading to Al Bustan. Among a group of 16 favourites where only Porte and Kristoff were missing, Bob Jungels managed to power away on the final descent with 2 kilometres to go. Crossing the line alone with a 6” lead over Pauwels and Bardet, the Luxemburger claimed his first success in Oman, and his first win under his new Etixx Quickstep colours. Jungels leads the GC and will have to switch his national champion’s jersey for a bright red one.
A beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures welcomed the peloton of the 7th edition of the Tour of Oman for stage 1 of the event. 141 riders gathered in front of the Oman Exhibition Center for the start of the race before taking on the 145.5-km ride all the way to Al Bustan. The pack took off just after 11:00 heading west before returning towards Muscat.
After only two kilometres, two men managed to break away: Pfingsten (BOA) and Dehaes (WGG). Five kilometres later they were caught by three other riders: De Vries (ROP), Van Speybrouck (TSV) and Koning (DPC). The gap rapidly grew over an unconcerned pack and reached 6’20” at km 25. From then on teams Astana and BMC took the chase on and the gap dropped. At the first intermediate sprint (km 76), claimed by De Vries ahead of Dehaes and Van Speybrouck, the pack however remained 3’05” adrift.
The front five managed to stay clear of the pack all the way to km 116 when Dehaes and Koning were the first to be dropped. Four kilometres later, the remaining three escapees were caught by the peloton just before the first climb of the day. The pack remained bunched all the way to the top of Al Hamriyah where Janse Van Rensburg (DDD) made it first ahead of Capiot (TSV) and De Plus (EQS). Just after that first difficulty, Pavel Kochetkov (KAT) gave it a go. After enjoying a 25” advantage at km 125 he was also to be caught.
The second bonus sprint (km 136) was then won by Capiot in front of Faria (LAM) and Kozonchuk (KAT). Time then came for the big battle between the favourites on the climb up Al Jissah. Among the first riders to be dropped was Richie Porte (BMC). Alexander Kristoff (KAT) winner of two stages here last year was the next of the big guns to struggle. Eventually, 16 men powered away. Among the front group were the likes of Nibali (AST), Rui Costa (LAM), Van Avermaet (BMC), Bardet, Pozzovivo (ALM), Martin, Jungels (EQS), Sepulveda (FVC), Boasson Hagen (DDD) and Rebellin (CCC). The final climb of the day (km 140) was conquered by Oss (BMC) ahead of Bystrom (KAT) and Fuglsang (AST).
With just under five kilometres to go, Sepulveda suffered a crash, loosing all hopes of claiming this first stage in Oman. The front group remained together on the long downhill portion towards the final straight. With two kilometres to go, Bob Jungels (EQS) managed to pull away, enjoying a 7” lead before the final kilometre. The Luxemburg national champion stayed clear of his rivals and went on to capture his first ever victory in Oman. Jungels also claims his first success under his new Etixx Quickstep colours while Serge Pauwels (DDD), 6” adrift, finishes second and Romain Bardet third.
The day’s stage winner conquers the overall leader’s Red Jersey and has a 10” lead over Pauwels and 14” over Bardet. The Luxemburger also leads the points classification and the best young riders standings while Amaury Capiot (TSV) conquers the Most Aggressive rider’s jersey.
Stage 2 – Omantel Head Office to Quriyat – 162km
Six years after already winning a stage of the Tour of Oman in Quriyat, Edvald Boasson Hagen triumphed again. This time, however, instead of a flat sprint, the Norwegian made the best of a brand new hilltop finish to beat all the favourites of the race. Beating Vincenzo Nibali and Greg Van Avermaet to the line, the Norwegian once again proved what great legs he had. Unlucky in Qatar where he should have won the GC if it hadn’t been for an unfortunate puncture, the Dimension Data rider conquers the overall leader’s Red Jersey from stage 1 winner Bob Jungels, dropped in the final climb.
After the thunder storms that struck the nation of Oman throughout the night, the beautiful weather had returned for day 2 of the Tour of Oman. A bright sunshine indeed welcomed the riders as they gathered in front of the Omantel Head Office for the start of stage 2. On the day’s menu: 162 kms of riding all the way to Quriyat.
While Sulzberger (DPC) was forced to quit, 140 riders took off at 11:40 AM. Despite several attempts, the pack remained bunched all the way to km 9 where six men managed to power away: Perichon (FVC), Asselman (ROP), Steels (TSV) and Kamp (SSG), as well as Pfingsten (BOA) and Dehaes (WGG), already present in yesterday’s long breakaway. The front group’s advantage grew rapidly and was of 3’30” at the bottom of the first climb of the day. At the summit of Boucher Al Hamerat (km 33), the leading six, led out by Pfingsten ahead of Steels and Dehaes, could enjoy a maximum gap of 4’15”. From then on overall leader Bob Jungels’ Etixx Quick Step team took command of the chase.
At the first intermediate sprint (km 81) won by Kamp in front of Dehaes and Steels, the pack had moved closer: 3’15”. Seeing the gap drop down, three men from the front group attacked: Périchon, Asselman and Kamp. Their lead over their former breakaway compangnons reached 1’30”. While the dropped men were eventually caught by the pack at km 111, the leaders could still enjoy an increased 3’40” advantage.
At the second bonus sprint (km 139.5), again claimed by Kamp in front of Asselman and Perichon, the pack remained 44” adrift. The leaders were eventually caught with 20 kilometres to go. As the riders headed back towards the city of Quriyat enjoying a fairly strong tailwind, team BMC accelerated at the front of the pack and created several echelons. Among the dropped men were the likes of Richie Porte (BMC) and Dan Martin (EQS). With 5 kms to go, the front group of around 50 riders had a 50” lead.
The final showdown between the big guns of the race would take place on the 3-km climb to the finish. Two kilometres from the line, struggling Red jersey, Bob Jungels (EQS) failed to remain in the front group, loosing all hopes of keeping his overall leadership. A group of 9 men battled it out on a final sprint and Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD) proved to be the fastest. The Norwegian claimed his third stage success in Oman, beating Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to the line. It was also the Norwegian’s second victory in Quriyat after triumphing there back in 2010, but at the time, the finish was on a flat straight.
Thanks to his stage win Boasson Hagen takes command of the GC (Red Jersey) and has a 4” lead over Nibali and 5” over Van Avermaet. Former leader and stage 1 winner, Jungels crossed the lind in 31st position, 59” adrift. The Norwegian also leads the points classification (Green jersey) while Patrick Konrad (BOA) claims the White jersey for the best young rider. Winner of the two intermediate sprints today Alexander Kamp captured the Most Aggressive rider’s jersey.
1. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-QuickStep 3:37:33
2. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data 0:00:06
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale 0:00:08
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
7. Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
8. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
9. Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
65. Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R-La Mondiale 0:01:36
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 4:12:00
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
5. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
6. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida
10. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data 0:00:06
33. Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:59
GC after Stage 2
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 7:49:31
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:04
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:06
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data 0:00:08
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:00:10
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
10. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:16
40. Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:37