Top Ten Finish for Roche as Green Mountain Shakes Up GC in Oman17. February 2018, Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) (OMN) — Road Team
There was a shake-up of the General Classification after the Tour of Oman queen stage today with Green Mountain providing the backdrop to a tough finale which saw Nicolas Roche finishing inside the top ten.
There was no hesitation at the start of stage 5 with attacks flying off the front of the bunch as soon as the flag dropped and, after an initial battle to form the breakaway, six riders went clear and began to extend an advantage over the rest of the field.
After 20km, of the 152km course, the gap had gone out 4’40" and, with the peloton keeping control of proceedings in preparation for a showdown on the final climb, it continued to hover between four and five minutes for the majority of the day.
Heading into the final 30km, and with Green Mountain on the horizon, the leaders’ advantage was holding steady at 4’30”. But an increase in pace saw the gap begin to fall, and by the time the race reached the bottom of the climb, with just over 5km to go, the peloton trailed the early breakaway by less than two minutes.
With the breakaway in pieces as the gradient began to take its toll, it was Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling) who led solo past the 4km to go mark. However, he was eventually swept up by the reduced main bunch just one kilometer later as an increase in pace saw four riders drawn out at the front of the race.
Behind, Roche was riding as part of a 10-rider chasing group before he launched a counter-attack in an attempt to bridge across to the late leaders with 2km to go.
In the end, it was Miguel Ángel López who proved to be the strongest on the day, taking the win just ahead of his Astana Pro Team teammate Alexey Lutsenko, who subsequently inherited the leader’s red jersey from Greg Van Avermaet.
Roche’s strong performance on the final climb saw him ride to a top ten finish on the stage with the Irishman crossing the line ninth, 47 seconds behind López.
Van Avermaet continues to lead the Points Classification heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“Today was a good day for me. I am quite happy about finishing in the top ten. This week was all about finding form and going deep, and when we came here, the GC wasn’t a priority, it was all about winning a stage with Greg. So the other day, I completely sacrificed my GC chances for him, and it worked out. Today, I had my chance on the stage, and I gave it all to go really deep ahead of the next races. I wasn’t expecting any more. I was hoping to be in the top ten or 15 places, so I am happy.”
“The form is going better day after day. Dubai Tour was my first race, and I lacked a bit of rhythm there. This week has already been better, and I am quite happy with how these past two weeks in the Middle East have gone. I am definitely better than this time last year, and I think that is a good sign for the upcoming months.”
Greg Van Avermaet:
“I did my best, but I wasn’t strong enough to stay with the climbers. It was a good test, and I am pretty happy. Everything is going really well, and I am happy with my shape, happy with my stage win, and happy with the team. The Classics guys are going really good. So, I am really confident for next week when it all starts. I don’t think I can go any better than I am now.”
“I am always a guy who does a lot of top tens, but it is also always good to win especially on a stage like stage 3 here. It was really in my favor. It was a really nice finish for me and it is good for the confidence of the team. It’s always good when you already have one victory on the list, and you can start the Classics for extra.”
“I came here for the stage win, and the Points Jersey is a nice extra. I am not really going to fight for it, but we will see what happens tomorrow. I think for us, Jempy Drucker will be our man for the sprint but we will see how it goes.”
Tour of Oman
Stage 5: Sama’il > Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), 152km
Top 3: 1. Miguel Ángel López (Astana Pro Team) 2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) 3. Jesús Herrada López (Team Cofidis)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 9. Nicolas Roche 22. Greg Van Avermaet 35. Michael Schär