Peter Sagan (Cannondale) opened his account for 2013 with victory on stage two of the Tour of Oman after attacking a select lead group on a rollercoaster run-in. The Slovakian also inherited the leader's red jersey from Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano).
It was a stage that, until the final thirty minutes, bore an uncanny resemblance to the previous day's, with Bobbie Traksel (Champion System) again on the attack, this time with Tomohiro Kinoshita (Japan), a teammate of his companion the previous day.
But unlike stage one, this one exploded in the final 20km as the riders tackled two short, steep climbs. Sky led over the first one behind Paul Voss of NetApp-Endura, who attacked on the climb, with Peter Kennaugh second and Bradley Wiggins third. Then, on the second and final climb of Al Jissah, 6.5km from the finish, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) had a go.
Contador and Nocentini's move drew some of the other favourites, including Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), but it was on the fast descent that followed that a small group became detached from the peloton. Fabian Cancellara and Tony Gallopin were there for RadioShack-Leopard, so were Sagan, Froome and Nibali.
Gallopin, Nibali and Martin Elmiger (IAM) attacked on the run-in, and seemed to be getting away when Sagan took matters into his own hands, jumping after them on the final short, sharp climb, before descending to the finish and pushing ahead for a solo win. Behind him, Gallopin claimed second, before Elmiger, Nibali, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick-step) and Froome. The main group, containing Wiggins, was on their heels, crossing the line just seconds after the sixth-placed Froome.
"It was difficult after the descent," said Sagan. "We had a small group ahead, but no one wanted to pull. Nibali attacked, another two went with him, and I pulled at the front, about 45kph, and then I attacked on the final climb and won alone. It was a good finish for me."
Asked how it had been to follow Contador's attack, he said: "It was a climb that was perfect for me, a one k[ilometre] climb, not 5-10k. It was a good stage for me." He would not seek to defend the jersey, he added. "I don't think so. Maybe [tomorrow] is another day for me; I won there last year, but after tomorrow, it's hard, and maybe more for riders like Contador or Nibali, not for me."
After the Tour of Oman Sagan, the winner of the green jersey and three stages in last year's Tour de France, said he was riding the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders.
Flanders is the one he most wants to win, but maybe not this year. "San Remo is good for my abilities, but I hope to win Flanders in the future. It's a nice classic, hard and for a strong man."
Tour of Oman 2013, stage two: Fanja in Bidbid to Al Bustan, 146km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale in 3-48-36
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Leopard at 5 secs
3. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at same time
5. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 7 secs
6. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at same time
7. Marco Bandiera (Ita) IAM Cycling at 11 secs
8. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ at same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Leopard at 9 secs
3. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling at 11 secs
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 15 secs
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ at 17 secs
6. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 17 secs
7. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 17 secs
8. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 21 secs
9. Marco Bandiera (Ita) IAM Cycling at 21 secs
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 21 secs
37. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing at 21 secs
55. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at 1-42
104. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky at 2-25
105. Erick Rowsell (GBr) NetApp-Endura at 2-26
112. Russell Downing (GBr) NetApp-Endura at 3-42
Richie Porte leads Sky in the bunch
Bobbie Traksel and Tomohiro Kinoshita in the break
Peter Sagan wins stage two of the Tour of Oman
Peter Sagan in the red leader's jersey
Tour of Oman 2013: Stage two photo gallery
Marcel Kittel wins Tour of Oman opening stage
Tour of Oman 2013 stage one photo gallery
Tour of Oman 2013: Preview and coverage
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