photo credits @ Tour of Oman
A ferocious attack in the final meters up the ascent of Qurayyat got Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) the prizes he was aiming for: the win in stage 2 of the Tour of Oman 2023 and the overall lead. The Spanish puncheur made the most of his skills and his knowledge of this specific terrain to pounce at the perfect moment and get the best of Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates). Already a podium finisher in the Tour of Oman (3rd in 2019, a year that saw him finish 2nd in Qurayyat), Herrada says he wants to keep the red jersey all the way to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), the final summit of this 12th edition, on Wednesday.
As soon as the peloton left the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, they headed to the infamous climb of Al Jabal Street (3.5km at 9.2%), where riders unleashed a flurry of attacks. Ivan Cobo (Equipo Kern Pharma) was the fiercest on the uphill but the peloton didn’t give him much room to operate. Alone at the front, he was eventually caught at the bottom of the descent.
UAE and Astana control the day
From there, attacks kept flying on the flat. Fredrik Dversnes (Uno-X) later jumped ahead of the bunch at km 15. He was quickly joined at the front by Luca Van Boven (Bingoal WB) but Dvernes dominated the intermediate sprint of Al Amrat (km 20.1).
The two leaders we’re later joined by four more attackers after 25km: Ivan Cobo, back on the move, Angel Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Kosuke Takeyama (JCL Team Ukyo) and the leader of the most aggressive rider classification, Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon), wearing the golden jersey after his breakaway on day 1.
With the gap up to 4’ but UAE Team Emirates and Astana Qazaqstan reacted at the front of the bunch. Mark Cavendish participated in the chase for the kazakh team while the gap sat between 2 and 3 minutes for most of the stage.
Cobo showed his climbing skills again as the attackers faced the climb of Qurayyat (2.6km at 7%) for the first time, 52km before the uphill finish. But, Meijers couldn’t keep up, quickly dropping back to the bunch.
The peloton upped the ante after the summit. As the gap dropped down to 1 minute, Cobo, Dvernes and Takeyama also dropped back to the bunch, while Van Boven and Fuentes remained at the front inside the last 30km.
Soudal Quick-Step then moved to the front of the bunch and put the hammer down with 15km to go. The two attackers at the front are eventually brought back 7km to go, just ahead of the final ascent.
From there, UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Arkéa-Samsic set a strong pace for their leaders. But nobody could contain Jesus Herrada’s acceleration during the final 200m, with Van Gils and Ulissi trying to rein the Spanish rider in.
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