Brandle Takes Final Stage of Oman Tour; Valls Wins Overall
Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) has won the sixth and final stage of the Tour of Oman. The Austrian soloed away from three breakaway companions in the last three km to take the hilly, 133-km ride from Oman Air to Matrah Corniche in 3:02:31. Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step) finished second at 0:04, and Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) took third at 0:13. Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), who seized the overall lead in Stage 4, claimed overall victory.
Stage 5 had been cancelled because of a sandstorm, but the temperature was cooler than it had been during the rest of the race. In the opening km, Van Meirhaeghe, Keisse, Brandle, and Danny Pate (Sky) jumped into the lead. The quartet was no threat to the overall leaders and was allowed to forge a 9:20 lead by 55 km.
BMC, Movistar, and Cofidis began to chase. The escapees’ lead narrowed to 6:40 at 89 km and 5:20 at 106 km. At the first of three circuits of the finish line, the bunch led the break by 4:30. The pursuit continued to close the gap, but at the beginning of the last lap, the fugitives were 2:15 ahead of the field. With three km left, Brandle made his move on the day’s last climb. The former hour record holder held off Keisse to take the stage win, while Van Meirhaeghe attacked Pate to take third place on the stage.
Brandle sensed that he could win by waiting until the last climb. “It’s always a great feeling to be able to raise your arms on the line in victory,” the IAM Cycling man said. “I had staked everything on the final, and I remained quiet on the final climb with 25 km to go since I could see the guys were still pushing the pedals. With three km to go, I started to give it my all. Today, it worked well and all the guys in the break rode equally hard to make the difference. Personally, I wanted to get a stage victory either at Qatar or Oman, so I just managed to reach my goal on the final day. I felt good, and I hope it will last the rest of my program, which includes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Tirreno-Adriatico.”
In the overall, Valls beat Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) by 0:09 and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 0:19.
By winning Tour of Oman, Spaniard Valls has picked up the second win of his career. Will he built on this success to win other victories? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!