Tour triumph for Valls, stage win for Brandle
excerpts from Tour of Oman
Winner of the decisive fourth stage at Green Mountain, Rafael Valls went on to claim the 2015 Tour of Oman. The Spaniard managed to keep all his rivals under control to conquer the most prestigious win of his career, ahead of Tejay van Garderen and Alejandro Valverde. The final stage of the event, from Oman Air to the Matrah Corniche, saw former hour record holder Matthias Brandle triumph on his own, after making the best of a long four-man breakaway.
The wind was still strong but the weather conditions were far cooler for day 6 of the Tour of Oman. The 138 remaining riders gathered in front of the Oman Air headquarters for the start of the final stage of the event. Carrying the overall leader’s Red Jersey, Rafael Valls (LAM) knew that the race was far from won. The Spaniard could indeed only enjoy a slim 9” advantage over his closest rival Tejay van Garderen (BMC) before a final demanding 133.5-km ride towards the Matrah Corniche, including two hard climbs.
The pack took off at 10:52 and after 7 kilometers, four men managed to break away: Pate (SKY), Keisse (EQS), Brandle (IAM) and the most aggressive rider of the event, Van Meirhaeghe (TSV), present in every single breakaway since the start of the race last Tuesday. A fifth man, Jelle Wallays (TSV) tried his luck to catch the front group but after moving within 10” of the escapees, he struggled and was eventually caught by the pack at km 20 while the leaders could enjoy a 3’15 advantage. The gap carried on increasing and reached a maximum 9’20 at km 55 before several teams (BMC, Cofidis, Movistar) really started chasing.
At the top of the first climb of the day (Al Hamriyah, km 89), won by Van Meirhaeghe ahead of Pate and Brandle, the pack remained 6’40 adrift. While several riders including Green jersey Andrea Guardini (AST) were dropped, the peloton broke up into several groups with the overall leader and the main favourites in the first bunch. The pack bunched up again before the first sprint (km 102.5) claimed by Van Meirhaeghe. At the top of the second climb (Al Jissah, km 106), the gap between the front group led by Keisse and the pack was of 5’20. The front four reached the final cicrcuit still enjoying a a 4’30 break.
At the second bonus sprint (1st crossing of the line at km 119), won by Pate ahead of Van Meirhaeghe and Keisse, the pack was still 3’20 behind with two laps to go. It was looking good for the escapees as they took on the final lap with a 2’15 lead. In the last climb of the day with 3kms to go, Matthias Brandle made his effort and took off. The Austrian managed to hang on to the lead all the way to the finish, winning this final stage with a 4” advantage of Iljo Keisse and 13” over Van Meirhaeghe. The former hour record holder conquers his first ever stage success in Oman. The pack led by Peter Sagan reached the line 1’16 adrift.
Finishing in the pack, Rafael Valls wins this 6th edition of the Tour of Oman. The Spaniard who had won stage 4 at Green Mountain follows in the foosteps of riders such as Cancellara or Froome and claims his second professional win after a stage success at the 2012 Tour of San Luis in Argentina. The points classification is finally won by Andrea Guardini while Louis Meintjes (MTN) finishes best young rider. Jef Van Meirhaeghe wins the most aggressive rider jersey.
Stage five of this year’s race, was cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions.
photo credits @ Twitter
Top 10 Finishers
1 Matthias Brändle (Aut) IAM Cycling 3:02:31
2 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx-Quick Step 0:00:04
3 Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:00:13
4 Danny Pate (USA) Team Sky 0:00:16
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:16
6 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
7 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
9 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
10Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
1 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre – Merida 21:09:31
2 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:19
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:32
5 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:04
6 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:08
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:10
8 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:15
9 Julian Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing 0:01:25
10 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 0:01:3
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