Stage for Kristoff, leadership for Howard

Stage summary19.02.2014Stage 2- Al Bustan / Quriyat

As expected, stage 2 of the Tour of Oman ended in a bunched sprint despite a long three-man breakaway. Norwegian Alexander Kristoff captured his first win in Oman beating Howard and Boonen to the line. The overall leader's Red Jersey switches shoulders and goes from André Greipel to Australian sprinter Leigh Howard.

The 142 riders of the Tour of Oman didn't have much to travel to reach the start of stage 2 at Al Bustan where they could witness the impressive new Oman Parliament building, just a few kilometres away from the Barr Al Jissah Resort where they all stay. And it was a rather sad morning as all had a thought for Kristof Goddaert, who tragically died in a bike crash in Belgium yesterday. As a tribute to the IAM rider, a minute of silence was respected just before the start.

Unlike the previous day, the sky was rather cloudy, making the temperature a lot cooler. But as soon as the pack took off, the sun had miraculously appeared from behind the clouds and remained well present all along the 140.5 kms of the stage heading to Quriyat. After 4.5 kilometres, three men managed to break away from the pack: Van Hecke (TSV) wearing the Most Aggressive rider's Jersey, Colonna (BAR) and Ilesic (UHC). The front three rapidly saw their advantage grow, as it reached 2' when Hinault (IAM) took off on a counter-attack at km 9. But the Frenchman's solo efforts would be vain as he failed to catch up with the leaders. When he was eventually caught back by the pack at km 43.5, the leading three could enjoy a maximum 7'25 advantage.

The first intermediate sprint of the day (km 62) was claimed by Van Hecke in front of Colonna and Ilesic, while the pack remained 5' adrift. With teams Lotto – Belisol, OPQS and Tinkoff – Saxo leading the chase, the gap dropped down rapidly. Ilesic was the first to struggle at the front and was eventually caught by the pack at km 117. The second bonus sprint (km 121.5) was again won by Van Hecke comforting his lead in the Most Aggressive Rider's classification ahead of Colonna. The pack led by Gallopin (LTB), third of the sprint, moved closer, 35” behind.

The two escapees were finally caught with just under 10kms to go. The pack remained bunched all the way to the final straight in Quriyat. The decision was to be made in a final sprint. Only 9th of yesterday's stage, Alexander Kristoff (KAT) reacted in style flying to victory. The Norwegian 26-year-old powered to the line, beating Leigh Howard (OGE), second again, and Tom Boonen (OPQ), to conquer his 13th career win.

Not in the battle for victory, André Greipel looses his Red Jersey, that goes to Howard. The Australian who had won a stage of the Tour of Oman back in 2010 becomes the new overall leader with a 2” advantage over Kristoff and Greipel. The 24-year-old from Geelong also leads the points' classification and the best young rider standings while Preben Van Hecke remains the race's Most Aggressive rider.   

Stage 2 Al Bustan / Quriyat

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 6

Classifications after the stage 6

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