André Greipel emerged from his lull yesterday – to claim stage 3 of the 2014 Tour of Oman in Al Bustan today.
The German rider and his Lotto-Belisol team managed to maintained their composure after Peter Sagan, accompanied by Chris Froome, Fabian Cancellara and Zdenek Stybar initiated a late breakaway on the final ascent of the Al Jissah climb.
However, the group was caught in the final kilometer on the fast descent to the finish. From there, Lotto-Belisol succeeded in ushering their man Greipel up to the front for a sprint showdown. And, in his typical fashion, the German powerhouse executed a perfectly timed acceleration that left his rivals struggling in his wake.
A disappointed Sagan finished in second place – several bikes lengths back, while Nacer Bouhanni took third and Ben Swift followed in fourth.
Today’s 10 second sprint bonus yielded Greipel enough time to regain the leader’s jersey. He now leads Leigh Howard by eight seconds in the overall GC, with Alexander Kristoff in third at 10 seconds back. After the stage Greipel had this to say:
"Maybe it looked easy but it was hard to stay with Sagan and the group because they tried to make the race hard," Greipel said modestly after pulling on the red leader’s again.
"We were lucky that there was a head win on the final climbs. I had to hang on there and was pretty far back but my team brought me back to the front. They decided that they wanted to ride for me, even if the finish was more for Roelandts. In the end I still had two guys to lead me out. It was perfect timing to hit the front."
"I have good legs, I’d accept that but I needed the team to set me up. I win but its not about me, it’s about the team."
"It’s nice to have a leader’s jersey. We got it back today but we will lose it tomorrow," he said.
How the Race Unfolded
Today’s 145 kilometer stage from the Muscat Bank headquarters to Al Bustan featured mainly a flat route – peppered by a few short, steep climbs before the finale.
A small breakaway group containing Jelle Wallays, Nicola Boem, Martijn Maaskant and Kevin Ista took form shortly after today’s stage got underway.
After establishing a peak lead of about three minutes over the peloton, the escapee’s gap started to dwindle once they hit the short, steep climb of the Al Hamriya.
In the final ten kilometers, riders were faced with the final climb of the Al Jissah. At that point, the peloton split under the impetus of Dario Cataldo, who was soon joined by Froome,Cancellara, Sagan and Stybar at the front.
However, despite enjoying a brief lead over the main peloton, the Froome group, along with the lingering escapees were all caught – as the field came back together in the final kilometer.
Top 25 Finishers
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 3:29:08 2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr 4 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky 5 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani Csf 6 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 7 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 8 Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team Netapp-Endura 9 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 10 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Csf 11 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale 12 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 13 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge 14 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr 15 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura 16 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol 17 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling Team 18 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 19 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 20 Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 21 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo 22 Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 23 Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky 24 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ.fr 25 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
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