Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) took the first victory of his professional career as he proved the strongest of a select front group on the uphill finish to Quriyat on stage three of the Tour of Oman.
The 22-year-old showed maturity as he bided his time in a diminishing peloton as attacks from Julian Arrendondo (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) went clear on the steep finishing climb.
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However, both of those attackers faded on the testing slopes, and as De Plus was caught close to the line, Andersen sprung clear to take the win by a handful of bike lengths.
That result means that Hermans holds onto the overall lead that he took on Wednesday.
After it took 40km for a break to form yesterday, stage three’s escape went almost from the gun, with a six-man group going clear in the first five kilometres of racing.
Aqua Blue Sport have been a near-constant presence in breakaways so far this season, and so it proved once again with Irishman Matt Brammeier in the breakaway, along with Chun Kai Feng (Bahrain-Merida), Bert Van Lerberghe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare), Kagushige Kuboki (Nippo-Vini Fantini), and Frantisek Sisr (CCC Sprandi Polowice).
By the top of the first climb after 33km their lead had extended to more than four minutes, and despite being trimmed on the high-speed descent, the sextet still had a gap of nearly three minutes going into the final 50km.
But with a crucial uphill finish, the break never looked likely to succeed, eventually being caught with around 15km to go as BMC Racing set tempo on the front of the peloton to protect race leader Ben Hermans.
However the pace wasn’t fast enough to prevent an early attack on the five-kilometre finishing climb. The Nippo-Vini Fantini opened a gap of a handful of seconds, before being overhauled by a counter-attack from Laurens De Plus.
De Plus had a significant gap in the steep final kilometre, but faded in the final few hundred metres to be caught by a greatly diminished front group, with Andersen jumping clear to take his first pro victory.
Ben Hermans rolled backed up his victory on stage two with a third place finish to maintain his overall lead.
Tour of Oman 2017, stage three: Sultan Qaboos University to Quriyat, 162km
1. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb, in 3-53-11
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi
3. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing
4. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
6. Davd De La Cruz (Esp) Quick-Step Floors
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data, all same time
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, at 4 secs
10. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data, at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing, in 11-00-15
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi, at 2 secs
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 10 secs
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri), Dimension Data, at 18 secs
5. David de la Cruz (Esp) Quick-Step Floors, at 21 secs
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
7. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
8. Soren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb, all same time
9. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, at 25 secs
10. Janier Acevedo (Col) UnitedHealthcare, at same time