Tour of Oman: Alexander Kristoff wins stage 2


Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman ends in a bunch sprint won by Alexander Kristoff with Aussie Leigh Howard taking the leader’s jersey

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Alexander Kristoff wins stage 2



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 the Australian sprinter Leigh Howard.

The 142 riders of the Tour of Oman didn’t have far 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.

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 peloton took off, the sun had miraculously appeared from behind the clouds and remained present all along the 140.5 km 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 peloton at km 43.5, the leading three enjoyed a maximum lead 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 peloton at km 117. The second bonus sprint (km 121.5) was again won by Van Hecke increasing his lead in the Most Aggressive Rider’s classification ahead of Colonna. The pack led by Gallopin were getting closer, 35” behind.

The two escapees were finally caught with just under 10kms to go after which the peloton remained together all the way to the final straight in Quriyat where the stage was decided in a bunch kick. Only 9th on yesterday’s stage, Alexander Kristoff (KAT) timed his effort well winning in style. 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 lost his Red lader’s jersey, that went 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.

Ben Swift (Team Sky) was a bit boxed in for the sprint on the right-hand side of the road when the left was the side to be on today into the headwind. Tomorrow is a much harder stage with a final climb three or four kilometres before the finish.  There’s a fast descent towards the finish which could be good for Swifty.

Stage winner Kristoff said afterwards: “In the final I started a little bit early with 500 meters to go. After a rider passed me, I took his wheel and with 200 meters I started again. I just concentrated on myself and my feelings and I gave my all for a victory, – explained Alexander Kristoff of the closing meters.”

“I am very happy with this victory today” – continued an enthusiastic Alexander Kristoff. “In my first race in Qatar I missed something. I went there ready after a good winter preparation, but I had some bad luck and several crashes. Yesterday for the first time I felt well and today for the entire stage I was in great shape.”

“Thanks to the good work of my team I went through the entire stage without any troubles. Today the team worked as one united collective – everything was just perfect. This victory gives me more motivation for the season. I will try to progress day by day to be 100 percent ready for the classics season.

1 KRISTOFF Alexander Team Katusha 03:12:01
2 HOWARD Leigh Orica GreenEDGE
3 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4 FöRSTER Robert UnitedHealthcare
6 RUFFONI Nicola Bardiani – CSF
7 VANSPEYBROUCK Pieter Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
8 BURGHARDT Marcus BMC Racing Team
9 TRENTIN Matteo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10 BENNETT Sam Team NetApp – Endura

12 SWIFT Ben Team Sky
14 SAGAN Peter Cannondale
25 GREIPEL André Lotto Belisol
26 GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team
43 FROOME Christopher Team Sky
47 NIBALI Vincenzo Astana Pro Team
64 SCHLECK Andy Trek Factory Racing
67 DEMPSTER Zakkari Team NetApp – Endura
72 STYBAR Zdenek Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
74 ROCHE Nicolas Tinkoff-Saxo
125 CANCELLARA Fabian Trek Factory Racing


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