Alexander Kristoff’s dominance in the sprints at both Middle East in the last two weeks made him the favourite to win today’s final stage at the Tour of Oman and he duly delivered. Despite being out of position the Katusha rider’s won the bunch sprint with some ease, taking his second win of the race and his fifth in two weeks.
Also predictably, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) wrapped up the general classification, his performance on the stage three climb of Green Mountain the difference between him and Romain Bardet in second place, just 15 seconds back on the general classification.
The final stage of the Tour of Oman, a 130.5km route between The Wave, Muscat, and Matrah Corniche, was no processional ride through the city streets designed for a certain spent finish.
Prior to racing the finishing circuit, the peloton tackled the two climbs which had so effectively shredded the peloton on stage one, when Luxemburger Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) claimed the first red jersey of the week.
However, with a descent and three laps of a 7.5km circuit along the corniche to conclude the race, the peloton was always likely to reform.
After an extremely aggressive start, where an number of groups tried and failed to get away, after 18km of aggressive racing a group of six riders finally made it clear of the peloton: Sébastien Minard (Ag2r), Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Argon 18), Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep), Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen), Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare), Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).
They were eventually joined by Jesper Asselman (Roompot), a regular in breaks throughout this and the race in Qatar, and constructed a lead of two minutes 30 seconds.
With a long descent followed by three laps of a 7.5km circuit along the corniche, the climbs were raced differently to Stage one and the peloton stayed together.
The break was eventually caught on the final lap, after which BMC attacked on a small climb, succeeding in troubling Kristoff.
“We were a little bit behind,” the Norwegian explained. “But Marco [Haller] brought us from 2k all the way to 500 metres to the front and Jacopo [Guarnieri] brought me to 200 metres. When you are delivered with this speed in this position it’s not too difficult to win.”
“This race is race is not a small one, it is a Hors category race, so it is always good to win here.”
Nibali had been the pre race favourite and his general classification victory puts him on course in his preparation for a second Giro d’Italia victory this May. “My goal was to do a good race,” he told us. “I am happy, because in other years I was not ready until later in the season, but now I want to win earlier.”
Britain’s Mark McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) finished the race in 95th place overall, 32-04 adrift of Nibali.
Tour of Oman 2016, stage six: The Wave Muscat to Matrah Corniche, 130.5km
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
2. Zico Waeytens (Bel) Giant-Alpecin
3. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Giant-Alpecin
4. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
6. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe-Gobert
7. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen
8. Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre-Merida
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
10. Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare all same time
Final general classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) FDJ at 15 secs
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 24 secs
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 40 secs
5. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 54 secs
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data at 1-06
7. Brendan Canty (Aus) Drapac Pro Cycling at 1-31
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 1-38
9. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 1-56
10. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep at 1-59