The second stage of the 2019 Tour of Oman looked looked to be an unpredictable day with a tough climb in the closing kilometres.
A trio of short sharp ascents awaited the riders in the first Middle East race of the fledgling season, before the final 1.2km-long ramp with maximum gradients of eight per cent in the final 10km.
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Stage two ran over 156.5km from Royal Cavalry Oman on the coast and finished by the sea at Al Bustan.
The 2019 race, which runs from Saturday (February 16) to Thursday (February 21), has attracted sprinting talent as well as those looking to the Classics season.
CCC Team’s Greg Van Avermaet is arguably the biggest name to line up at the six-stage event.
Niki Terpstra, winner of the 2018 Tour of Flanders, is also looking to get more miles in his legs with his new Direct Energie team.
In anticipation of the sprint stages, Germany’s André Greipel is there with his new Continental outfit Arkéa Samsic, along with Dimension Data’s Giacomo Nizzolo.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) is also racing, along with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko won the 2018 edition of the race and returns this year.
After opening with a sprint stage, the following three days will be lumpy and unpredictable, before heading to the biggest test of the week. Stage five sees the riders tackle Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Green Mountain.
The final stage is another lumpy but less testing day, likely to end in a bunch sprint.
Van Avermaet has ridden all but one editions of the race since it was launched in 2010.
The Belgian said: “It’s good preparation, a relaxing event, good weather with some nice stages.
“It’s a nice way to build up for the season. I like the way many of the stages are prepared for punchy riders.”
Catch up on the best bits from stage two here.
The race continues on stage three with a 192.5km run, starting at Shati Al Qurum and finishing at Qurayyat.