Van Avermaet Powers into Leader's Jersey in Oman after Victory on Stage 315. February 2018, Wadi Dayqah Dam (OMN) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet secured a previously elusive stage win at the Tour of Oman today after powering away from the rest of the field to take the honors on stage 3 and move into the leader's jersey.
Once again, it was a group of four riders that went clear early into stage 3 and, as the race approached the first of three categorized climbs, after 50km, of the 179.5km course, the gap between the breakaway and the main bunch was sitting at over four minutes.
Heading into the second half of the day, an increase in pace at the front of the peloton saw the advantage of the leaders begin to fall and, as the road began to rise once again, towards the summit of the Quriyat climb, just two minutes stood between the two groups.
The last riders from the early breakaway were caught with 20km to go as Nathan Haas, race leader at the start of the day, and his Team Katusha-Alpecin teammates set the pace in an attempt to neutralize any late attacks on the approach to the testing final climb and the 8.5km run into the finish on the Wadi Dayqah Dam.
With 5km remaining, a select group of just 50 riders remained in the main bunch as BMC Racing Team hit the front to control the final three kilometers of the race and help set the stage for Van Avermaet on the uphill drag to the line.
An impressive turn of speed from Van Avermaet in the closing meters of the race saw him jump off the front of the bunch and power away from the rest of the field to take an emphatic stage win and move into the red leader's jersey.
The Winner's Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Congratulations, Greg. Talk us through the final meters of today's race.
"I am always happy to win and especially in Oman after so many years. I think the team did a perfect job. We came at the right moment on the descent with 3km to go, and they put me in a perfect position so I could wait for the perfect moment. It was at the hardest point of the climb that I went full gas, and I just hoped that no one could follow and that's what happened so I was really happy that I could cross the line first."
Did you feel any pressure in the closing stages of the race?
"I was expecting Astana Pro Team to make the race hard for Alexey Lutsenko on a finish like this, but for me, that was good as it got rid of some of the sprinters. I was able to stay there, and I think the team was patient enough today to take the lead at the right moment and I think that was really important for the final climb."
"It was a hard finish, but I knew it from 2013 when I was second here. I had better legs this time though as I was able to go at the moment that I wanted to and then it was about getting to the finish as fast as possible and hoping that nobody could follow. It was a good finish for me and a really nice win. It was also nice for me to finish off the good work of the team."
And looking ahead to the rest of week.
"It's a nice extra to take the leader's jersey, and we will see what happens, but for the moment, I am really happy with this stage win. That was the most important thing for me."
"I am not expecting to win the Tour of Oman, but I am in the red jersey now so tomorrow I will try to defend it. I am pretty happy with my condition for the Classics, but overall, for the General Classification, I think Green Mountain is too hard for me. It will be one for the climbers, and I think they can maybe take two minutes on me on a climb like this."
Tour of Oman
Stage 3: German University of Technology > Wadi Dayqah Dam, 179.5km
Top 3: 1. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) 2. Rui Costa (UAE-Team Emirates) 3. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 1. Greg Van Avermaet 49. Alberto Bettiol 50. Jempy Drucker