Kristoff Takes Stage 3 of Oman Tour
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) has taken Stage 3 of the Tour of Oman. The Norwegian won a bunch sprint to win the rolling, 158-km ride in and around Al Mussanah Sports City in 3:56:42. Andrea Guardini (Astana) finished second, and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) came in third. Stage 2 winner Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) remains the overall leader.
The stage began with the temperature higher than 30 degrees Celsius, and it would end with the mercury reaching almost 40 degrees. Jef Van Meirhaeghe and Preben Van Hecke (both from Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) sallied off the front with Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF). The trio led the field by more than nine minutes at 23 km. Trek took over at the front, and the break’s lead narrowed to six minutes at 60 km and 1:20 at 136.5 km. At 141 km, the bunch snuffed out the break.
In the last 10 km, Astana, Movistar, MTN-Qhubeka, and Tinkoff-Saxo Bank fought for control of the peloton. Katusha reached the front with just under five km left. Kristoff held his fire until 100 m remained and fought off Guardini and Pelucchi. Kristoff attributed the victory to teamwork. “The team protected me so well,” the Olympic road race bronze medalist said. “[Teammates] Gatis Smukulis and Jacopo Guarnieri were the last guys to give me some shelter against the strong headwind. I was in a comfortable position in the last kilometer. Orica-GreenEdge started the sprint. Trek took over. I was in the wheel of Danny van Poppel [Trek] with 300 m to go but I waited till the last 100 m to go full gas. It was a perfect sprint. The leadout was like it has to be. We made a nice progress compared to the past. Every race is one step up. I am so happy with my leadout train.”
In the overall, Cancellara leads Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 0:04 and Patrick Konrad (Bora - Argon 18) by 0:05. Stage 4 might be a standing shaker. The 189-km ride from Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque to Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) will end with a tough climb. Who will win? Will Cancellara keep his overall lead? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!