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Feb 19, 2015 – Winner of three stages at the Tour of Qatar a week ago, Alexander Kristoff conquered his first success on this year’s Tour of Oman. Already victorious during the 2014 edition, the Norwegian flew to an impressive sprint win, beating Andrea Guardini and Mateo Pelucchi to the line, just by the Al Mussanah Sports City. The overall leader’s Red Jersey remains on the shoulders of Fabian Cancellara who comfortably finished in the bunched pack today.
The heat is still on. With temperatures close to 40 °C during the day, it was another tough stage for the 141 remaining riders of the Tour of Oman. On the menu: a 158.5km loop around the Al Mussanah Sports City. The riders took off at 11:00 AM from their Millenium resort. After just a few meters of racing, three men broke away: Van Hecke, Van Merhaeghe (both TSV), already on the move yesterday, and Tonelli (BAR).
The leading three enjoyed a maximum 9’15 lead at km 23 before the pack led by the Trek team started chasing. At the first intermediate sprint (km 34), won by Van Merheaghe in front of Tonelli and Van Hecke, the pack remained 8’55 adrift. Gradually the gap dropped down and the escapees were under the control of the peloton, eager to make it bunched for a final sprint.
The second bonus sprint (km 136.5) was again claimed by Van Merheaghe ahead of Van Hecke and Tonelli, while the pack was 1’20 behind. After grabbing maximum points and seconds on both sprints, the Belgian then stopped his efforts. He was the first to be caught at km 157. The front two continued on their own and had a 1’15 lead with 20kms to go. They too were gobbled up by the hungry pack at km 141. The peloton remained bunched all the way to the final long straight.
Well helped out by his Katusha team mates, Alexander Kristoff powered to his first success of this 2015 Tour of Oman. Victorious last year in Quriyat, the Norwegian this time beat Andrea Guardini (AST) and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) to the line, claiming his second success in the Sultanate. Already a winner of three stages in Qatar, the 27-year-old shows, once again, that he is well on par in his preparation to conquer a second consecutive Milan – San Remo, come March.
Finishing 50th today and part of the bunched part, Fabian Cancellara (TFR) keeps his overall leader’s Red Jersey and still has a 4” lead over Valverde (MOV) and 5” over Konrad (BOA). Victorious on day one and second today, Andrea Guardini takes command of the points classification and conquers the Green jersey, while Konrad remains best young rider (white jersey) and Van Merheaghe comforts his polkat-dot combativity jersey.