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Tour of Oman 2015 Stage 4

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excerpts from Tour of Oman

While many were expecting former winners like Vincenzo Nibali or Joaquim Rodriguez to shine on the hardest stage of the Tour of Oman, Spaniard Rafael Valls triumphantly tamed the Green Mountain. In the last kilometer of the climb, the Lampre-Merida rider powered away, eventually crossing the line ahead of Tejay van Garderen and Alejandro Valverde. Valls captures the overall leader’s Red Jersey with two stages to go.

For the first time in the history of the Tour of Oman, the riders had the privilege and honour to take from the splendid Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque for stage 4 of the event. On the day, the pack would have to take on the most demanding stage of the Tour with the brutal climb up Jabal Al Akhdhar at the end of a 189-km race. The 139 remaining riders (one non starter: Declercq, TSV) took off at 10:44 with one extra major issue to deal with: the wind. The pack would indeed struggle against a strong face wind.

As soon as the first kilometer, four riders broke away: the Green jersey, Andrea Guardini (AST), the combativity jersey Jef Van Merhaeghe (TSV) as well as Vandenberghe (EQS) and Van Hoecke (TSV). At km 9, their advantage had reached 2’40 and kept on growing. The first intermediate sprint (km 18.5) was claimed by Guardini ahead of Van Merheaghe and Van Hoecke while the pack remained 4’50 adrift. Happy with the points and bonus seconds they had collected, Guardini and Van Merheaghe then stopped their efforts and were caught by the peloton at km 23.

Meanwhile Vandenberghe and Van Hoecke continued pushing hard at the front. After 30 kilometres they could enjoy a 7’05 lead over a pack led by the Trek Factory team of red jersey Fabian Cancellara. At a rather slow pace, the gap however continued to increase in the warm temperature (35°C) of Oman. After three hours of racing, the average speed had indeed dropped down to only 31.1km/h and the gap reached a maximum 14’45 at km 73. Teams BMC, Movistar and Trek then decided to take on the chase at a slightly faster pace. With 25kms to go, the front two could still enjoy a 3’50 lead. Ten kilometres later, that gap remained the same. At the second bonus sprint (km 178) won by Vandenberghe ahead of Van Hoecke, the pack led by Guardini, third, had moved closer, at 1’45. The front two were finally caught at km 183.

In the first few kilometers of the climb, Fabian Cancellara (TFR) was dropped, knowing then that he was living his last moments in red. A group of just over twenty riders pulled away with under 5 kilometres to go. After attacking twice, it was then Vincenzo Nibali’s turn to struggle wih 3kms to go, leaving ahead of him riders like Fuglsang (AST), van Garderen, Hermans (BMC), Majka (TCS), Moreno (KAT), Pinot (FDJ), Valverde (MOV), Jense Van Rensburg, Meintjes (MTN) and Valls (LAM). In the final kilometre only three men were left in the lead: van Garderen, Majka and Valls.

Valls eventually produced his effort in the last 500m powering away from his main rivals. He crossed the finish line victoriously with a 5” lead over van Garderen, 19” over Valverde and 22” over Majka. Thanks to his success, his first ever in Oman, Rafael Valls conquers the overall leader’s Red Jersey. The Spaniard has a 9” advantage over van Garderen and 19” over Valverde with two stages to go in this 6th edition. The points’ Green Jersey remains on the shoulders of Andrea Guardini while Louis Meintjes takes command of the best young rider classification (white jersey). Van Merheaghe comforts his lead in the combativity standing.

Stage 4 Results
ESP 1 VALLS FERRI, Rafael (LAMPRE – MERIDA) 5:46:48
USA 2 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) + 5
ESP 3 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 19
POL 4 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 22
FRA 5 PINOT, Thibaut (FDJ) + 35
POR 6 FARIA DA COSTA, Rui Alberto (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 49
RSA 7 JANSE VAN RENSBURG, Jacques (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 54
RSA 8 MEINTJES, Louis (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 58
BEL 9 HERMANS, Ben (BMC RACING) + 1:00
DEN 10 FUGLSANG, Jakob (ASTANA)
CZE 11 KREUZIGER, Roman (TINKOFF – SAXO)
COL 12 ARREDONDO MORENO, Julian David (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 1:15
NED 13 POELS, Wouter (SKY) + 1:27
POL 14 HUZARSKI, Bartosz (BORA-ARGON 18) + 1:31
AUT 15 KONRAD, Patrick (BORA-ARGON 18)
NED 16 WESTRA, Lieuwe (ASTANA) + 1:39
BEL 17 DEVENYNS, Dries (IAM CYCLING) + 1:53
ESP 18 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 1:56
SUI 19 FRANK, Mathias (IAM CYCLING) + 2:01
UKR 20 GRIVKO, Andriy (ASTANA) + 2:27
ITA 21 NIBALI, Vincenzo (ASTANA)
POL 22 POLJANSKI, Pawel (TINKOFF – SAXO)
IRL 23 DEIGNAN, Philip (SKY) + 2:37
CZE 24 KONIG, Leopold (SKY)
BEL 25 PAUWELS, Serge (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 2:42
FRA 26 BARGUIL, Warren (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 2:43
NED 27 WEENING, Pieter (ORICA GreenEDGE)
AUT 28 PREIDLER, Georg (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 2:57
USA 29 JONES, Carter (GIANT – ALPECIN) + 3:08
ITA 30 CARUSO, Damiano (BMC RACING) + 3:21
BEL 31 SERRY, Pieter (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
ITA 32 CHIRICO, Luca (BARDIANI CSF) + 3:25
SUI 33 MORABITO, Steve (FDJ)
COL 34 BELTRAN SUAREZ, Eduard Alexander (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 3:41
AUS 35 HOWSON, Damien (ORICA GreenEDGE)
AUS 36 DOCKER, Mitchell (ORICA GreenEDGE) + 3:58
NOR 37 BOASSON HAGEN, Edvald (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 4:16
SUI 38 HOLLENSTEIN, Reto (IAM CYCLING) + 4:34
GER 39 NERZ, Dominik (BORA-ARGON 18)
BEL 40 VANSPEYBROUCK, Pieter (TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE) + 4:37

General Classification after Stage 4
ESP 1 VALLS FERRI, Rafael (LAMPRE – MERIDA) 18:05:44
USA 2 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) + 9
ESP 3 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 19
POL 4 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 32
RSA 5 JANSE VAN RENSBURG, Jacques (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 1:04
RSA 6 MEINTJES, Louis (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 1:08
DEN 7 FUGLSANG, Jakob (ASTANA) + 1:10
BEL 8 HERMANS, Ben (BMC RACING) + 1:15
COL 9 ARREDONDO MORENO, Julian David (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 1:25
AUT 10 KONRAD, Patrick (BORA-ARGON 18) + 1:36
POR 11 FARIA DA COSTA, Rui Alberto (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 1:45
CZE 12 KREUZIGER, Roman (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 1:56
BEL 13 DEVENYNS, Dries (IAM CYCLING) + 2:03
ESP 14 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 2:06
NED 15 POELS, Wouter (SKY) + 2:23
POL 16 HUZARSKI, Bartosz (BORA-ARGON 18) + 2:27
NED 17 WESTRA, Lieuwe (ASTANA) + 2:35
UKR 18 GRIVKO, Andriy (ASTANA) + 2:37
SUI 19 FRANK, Mathias (IAM CYCLING) + 2:57
ITA 20 NIBALI, Vincenzo (ASTANA) + 3:23

 

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