Guardini strikes first
excerpts from Tour of Oman
As expected, stage 1 of the Tour of Oman ended up in a spectacular bunched sprint. Four riders however did try their luck as they broke away as soon as the first kilometer. But there wasn’t much they could do on the day’s flat stage against the hungry peloton. On the final straight in Al Wutayyah, Andrea Guardini powered to his first stage win of the season. The Italian managed to beat Tom Boonen and Matteo Pelucchi to the line, capturing the overall leader’s Red Jersey.
Beautiful weather conditions and very hot temperatures welcomed the riders of the 2015 Tour of Oman for the first stage of the event, starting just by the splendid Bayt Al Naman Castle. All eyes of course were on the reigning Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali, eager to battle it out with some of the best riders in the world. While Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) was forced to withdraw from the race, 143 men took off at 11:38 for a 161-km ride heading towards Muscat.
As soon as the first kilometers of racing, four men broke away: Van Zyl (MTN), Van Meirhaeghe (TSV), Konrad (BOA) and Andreetta (BAR). Their lead rapidly grew and went from 2′ at km 7 to a maximum 5’15 at km 17. That was when team Katusha decided to take command of the pack and started chasing. The gap dropped down to 3’15 at the first intermediate sprint (km 47.5) won by Konrad ahead of Van Meirhaeghe and Andreetta.
As the pack moved closer, Van Zyl decided to take off on his own while in the feeding zone (km 76). The South African reached the second bonus sprint (km 87) with a 1′ lead over his former breakaway companions and 4’10 over the pack. Van Meirhaeghe, Konrad and Andreetta were later caught at km 93, while Van Zyl continued his solo effort. The courageous escapee was finally gobbled up by the peloton at km 126.
On the long road heading towards Muscat, the pack remained bunched and did so until the final straight set in Al Wutayyah. In impressive fashion, Andrea Guardini (AST) powered to the line claiming his first ever success in Oman. Already a winner of a stage on the Giro d’Italia in 2012, the Italian sprinter beat Tom Boonen (EQS) and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM). Thanks to his victory, he conquers the overall leader’s Red Jersey and the points classification Green Jersey. Patrick Konrad claims the White Jersey for the best young rider as well as the Red and Green polka dot Jersey having earned the most points at the intermediate sprints.
Top 10 Finishers
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