Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took the bunch gallop victory at the end of the second stage of the 2014 Tour of Oman in Quriyat on Wednesday.
Kristoff edged out Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) in the acceleration to the line, with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in third. It’s 26-year-old Kristoff’s first victory of the 2014 season.
The day’s escape group of Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Paolo Colonna (Bardiani CSF) and Aldo Ino Ilesic (UnitedHealthcare) built up a lead of nearly eight minutes at one point as they were chased by Sébastien Hinault (IAM Cycling).
Hinault’s solo effort proved to be fruitless, and he was absorbed by the bunch. Ilesic was the next to drop out of the break and get swallowed up – with Van Hecke and Colonna caught by the peloton within the final 10km.
With his second place, Howard took the overall lead in the race after also placing second on the opening stage behind Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
The peloton observed a minute’s silence on the start line in memory of IAM Cycling rider Kristof Goddaert, who died during a training ride in Antwerp on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the riders face stage three from Bank Muscat to Al Bustan over a 145km route. The 2014 Tour of Oman concludes on Sunday, February 23.
Tour of Oman 2014, stage two: Al Bustan to Quriyat, 139km
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
2. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Robert Forster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
6. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
7. Peter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen
8. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10. Sam Bennett (Irl) NetApp-Endura all same time
Overall lead after stage two
1. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 2 secs
3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol at 2 secs
4. Preben van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 2 secs
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 6 secs
6. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF at 8 secs
7. Paolo Colonna (Ita) Bardiani CSF at 8 secs
8. Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF at 9 secs
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol at 11 secs
10. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing at 11 secs
17. Ben Swift (GBr) Sky at 12 secs
30. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 12 secs
Chris Froome says that he wants to replicate his 2013 season, starting with a defence of his Tour of Oman