Stage three of the 2019 Tour of Oman was expected to be a puncheur’s day, with some sharp tests along the route.
The 192.5km stage, the longest of the race, ran from Shati Al Qurum to Qurayyat culminating in a sharp rise to the line.
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, but had yet to take a stage heading into the third day.
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).
Stage two went to Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko, after the 26-year-old attacked on a ramp before the final classified climb.
The Kazakh held on to finish alone and moved into second on general classification in the process, behind stage one winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).
Lutsenko won the 2018 edition of the race.
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.”
The race continues on stage four with a 1931km run, starting at Yiti (Al Sifah) and finishing at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.