Astana turned the Green Mountain blue today finishing first and second on the Tour of Oman’s queen stage to Jebel Al Akhdhar. With team owner Alexandre Vinokourov watching, the Kazakh outfit bagged first and second place on the mountain to follow yesterday’s win.
Colombian climbing prodigy, Miguel Ángel López took first place with team-mate Alexey Lutsenko close behind. The result places Kazakh rider Lutsenko into the leader’s jersey with his team mate López just 11 seconds back and leading the young rider’s classification.
Averaging 10 per cent gradient, the final, five-kilometre climb was a brutal test, the bowl like geography holding the day’s heat, with temperatures well over 30°C.
Astana, however, dominated the mountain by attacking with three riders and four kilometres remaining. Only Bahrain-Merida’s Gorka Izagirre was able to follow, though he faded soon after one of the Astana riders, leaving only Lutsenko and López to contest the final.
How it happened
The opening 35km of the 152km stage between Sama’il and Jabar al Akhdhar were on highway, and almost instantly attacks went clear. After a short battle, two groups of three riders came together to for the break of the day.
Apparently out of sight and out of mind, on smaller roads, winding through baked, craggy, dusty landscape, the break soon built a gap in of four minutes.
For their part, the six, Marco Marcato (UAE Emirates), Pom Ligthart (Roompot-Nederlandse Lotterij), Benjamin Declercq (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Nicholas Schultz (Caja Rural) and the Rally Cycling duo of Robin Carpenter and Adam de Bos maintained both cooperation and work rate.
Indeed, such was the group’s work ethic, as they hit the straight roads of the oven-like desert flat lands, and the first intermediate sprint of the day – won by Declercq – the gap extended to over five minutes, the widest margin of the race to date.
However, with the spectre of Green Mountain looming the peloton were confident the catch could be made. As the race entered its final 15 kilometres the break’s advantage began tumbling with the peloton now in full flight.
The break reached the foot-slopes of the Green Mountain with an advantage of just 1-40, but within metres, as if they hit a wall, the peloton were upon them. Carpenter and Marcato lasted the longest, the American the last to be caught.
A noteworthy British result was that of Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport), who attacked from the chase group in the final couple of kilometres of the stage to distance the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and finish seventh. The 23-year-old former Team Wiggins rider now sits 11th overall.
The two classified climbs of Sunday’s 135.5km final stage between Al Mouj Muscat and Matrah Corniche are unlikely to affect the general classification, with the stage expected to end in a bunch sprint.
Tour of Oman 2018, stage five: Sama’il to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), 152km
1. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, in 3-43-58
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, at same time
3. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 12 secs
4. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 15 secs
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Kausha-Alpecin, at 22 secs
6. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo, at 25 secs
7. Daniel Pearson (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport, at 33 secs
8. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 43 secs
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing, at 47 secs
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 49 secs
General classification after stage five
1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, in 19-38-21
2. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 11 secs
3. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 28 secs
4. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 30 secs
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Kausha-Alpecin, at 32 secs
6. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-05
7. Daniel Navarro (Esp) Cofidis, at 1-14
8. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe-Gobert, at 1-24
9. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data, 1-29
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-37