After an extremely eventful day including three hill climbs, André Greipel showed that he wasn’t just a great sprinter, powering to a second stage success on the final circuit by Wadi AL Kabir. The German beat Sagan and Gallopin to the line and keeps good control of his overall leader’s Red Jersey.
On the menu of the day for the 127 riders of the Tour of Oman: one of the most beautiful, but nevertheless demanding stages of this 3rd edition. Taking off from Bidbid, the pack would have to face three very tough climbs on the way to a tricky final circuit on the palm tree lined Wadi Al Kabir in the heart of Muscat.
The riders took off at an extremely fast pace but things calmed down at km 10 when two riders managed to take off: Vandenbergh (OPQ) and Lodewijk (BMC) who was on a quest for fighting-spirit points. Their advantage over the peloton grew rapidly and reached a maximum 7’40 at km 42.
As the front men moved closer to the first climb of the day, the gap dropped down. Lodewijk was the first at the top of the new Bousher Alamrat expressway that zigzags through Muscat’s mountain range, ahead of Vandenberghe while the pack broke up into several groups and the likes of riders like Cavendish (SKY) and Farrar (GRM) failed to keep up with the pace. At the top the pack remained 3’50 adrift. In the descent the dropped riders caught up with the peloton and the chase continued.
At the top of the second climb of the day, Al Hamriya, the gap had dropped down to 2’55. The second bonus climb (Al Kissah, km 102) was again claimed by Lodewijk ahead of Vandenberghe while Rodriguez (KAT) made it first of the pack claiming a precious bonus second, some 1’55 adrift.
On the final circuit that tantalizingly passed the finish line located under two bronze statutes depicting Oman’s long affinity with breeding Arabian horses, Stijn Vandenberghe took off on his own at km 120, while Lodewijk was eventually caught by the pack. The Belgian rider could still enjoy a 1’15 with only one lap to go. He was finally caught at km 133.5. On the uphill portion riders like Cavendish, Farrar and Goss were dropped behind. With 5 kilometres to go, five men gave it a go at the front: Sagan (LIQ), Chavanel (OPQ), Fuglsang (RNT), Casar (FDJ) and Ten Dam (RAB). But they were finally caught and a group of 48 men battled it out in a final sprint to the line. Winner on day 1, André Greipel (LTB) powered to the line, triumphing ahead of Sagan and Gallopin (RNT).
The German now increases his command of the overall leader’s Red Jersey. He also keeps command of the points’ classification while Sagan remains the best young rider (White jersey). The fighting spirit jersey heads back to Lodewijk.