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Tour of Oman stages 1 & 2: Bos and Goss gather no moss

Stage 1  – as Sawadi to Al Seeb, 158km

Rabobank‘s Théo Bos edged out Mark Cavendish in a bunch sprint to claim stage one and the red leader’s jersey at the Tour of Oman, while defending champion Fabian Cancellara finished down in 42nd, ten seconds back.

This race may only be in its second year, but an interesting mix of flat, mountainous and time trial stages in the six-day race has attracted a quality field. In addition to several of the top sprinters, the field includes both current world champions – Thor Hushovd and Cancellara – as well as prominent grand tour racers such as Alexandre Vinokourov and Robert Gesink.

A three-man break slipped away after 30 kilometres, establishing a lead of nearly five minutes before being caught by the peloton inside the final ten kilometres, with Astana and then Rabobank driving at the front. They were soon joined by the white jerseys of HTC-Highroad, working for Cavendish, with Skil-Shimano, Sky and Leopard-Trek looking to get their sprinters Roger Kluge, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Daniele Bennati into position.

In the final 150 metres, Bos accelerated hard and leapt clear of the pack. Cavendish, further back, had to weave his way through the crowd and, although he closed rapidly on the Dutchman, he was still five or six centimetres short at the line. Kluge was a distant third.

Theo Bos just holds off Mark Cavendish to win stage one (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Cavendish later explained that a misplaced sign and a stray spectator had disrupted his sprint:

The 3km to go sign was where the 2km sign should have been and with about what was really a kilometre to go I was about 30 guys back. I shouted to Matt Goss and got across and he went with about 600 metres to go. He went up the side of the bunch on the right, which was probably the hardest way because that was where the wind was coming from.

I felt good, but the sprinters spread out, then I had to come past a spectator who was standing in the road about 200 metres from the finish. If I’d been able to start a bit earlier, maybe I’d have got it: But there was this guy there in the road, so I couldn’t start my sprint until after that.

I threw my bike at the line but I just couldn’t get to him [Bos]. If I’d been able to start my sprint earlier, then maybe I could have won or maybe I would have blown. Who knows?

Nonetheless, despite missing out on his first win of 2011, Cavendish will no doubt have been pleased to rediscover the zip in his legs.

Bos, a former track world champion, whose brother Jan was a two-time Olympic silver medalist in speed skating, was ecstatic with his win.

It’s great. The best sprinters in the world are here, and it’s me who’s won. It’s fantastic.

Stage 1 result:

1. Théo Bos (Rabobank) 3:38:19

2. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) same time

3. Roger Kluge (Skil-Shimano) s/t

4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) s/t

5. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) s/t

Stage 2  – The Wave, Muscat to Al Wutayya, 139km

HTC-Highroad’s Matt Goss continued his outstanding early season form, beating Daniele Bennati and Edvald Boasson Hagen at the finish in Al Wutayya to claim his sixth win of 2011.

Matt Goss claims his sixth win of 2011 on stage two (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

The day’s five-man breakaway established a lead of 3:40 early on, but it was on the uncategorised but steep climb halfway through the stage where the real action started to unfold. The chasing peloton fractured into several smaller groups, with most of the sprinters among those who became detached from the front. The break was swept up on the descent to form a lead group of around 30 riders, which eventually swelled to about 70 in number.

Patrik Sinkewitz (Farnese Vini-Neri) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) attempted to slip away late on, establishing a ten-second lead with three kilometres to go, but they were easily swept up by the chasing pack well before the finish. In the final sprint, Goss comfortably held off Bennati, with Boasson Hagen finishing third.

The remaining 50-odd riders, including stage one winner Théo Bos, finished 10:34 later. As a result, Goss, Bennati and Boasson Hagen are the new top three in the general classification.

Goss admitted the uphill finish had been a tricky one:

The last kilometre was quite tough there, slightly uphill and a little bit harder than I was expecting, but I managed to hold on fine. It suited me well, having to accelerate out of the last corner.

We had five guys in the front group, they looked after me until the last kilometre, then [Hayden] Roulston did a turn on the front to keep the speed high and I sat in a little way further behind and waited for my moment.

It’s great for the team, we came here wanting to get at least a stage win, now we can concentrate on seeing what we can do for the overall.

Stage three, which starts and ends in Sur, is the longest of the race at 208km. It features a fast downhill finish which will suit the sprinters. As well as protecting the red jersey, Goss will no doubt be looking to set up Mark Cavendish for his maiden win of 2011, having narrowly missed out on stage one.

Stage 2 result:

1. Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) 3:18:17

2. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) same time

3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) s/t

4. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) s/t

5. Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD) s/t

General classification:

1. Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) 6:56:36

2. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) +0:04

3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +0:06

4. Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercartor) +0:07

5. Tanel Kangert (Astana) +0:09

Links: Tour of Oman official websiteSteephill.tv

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

6 Responses to Tour of Oman stages 1 & 2: Bos and Goss gather no moss

  1. Sheree says:

    My favourite bit so far of the Tour of Oman was a bunch of kids racing with Eddy Merckx and doing their best to beat him.

    • Tim says:

      Isn’t it lovely to see him still so actively involved with the sport in an ambassadorial capacity? It’s something I wish Lance would do, but I suspect he has other fish to fry and would be less universally loved.

      I was only half-listening to the pre-ambleon Eurosport, but did I hear correctly that Merckx had also played a role in setting out the Oman parcours? Can you imagine how much fun that might be? (Oh, what the hell, chuck in another mountain or two …)

  2. Sheree says:

    You’re quite right Tim. In conjunction with ASO, he devizes the courses for the Tours of Oman and Qatar. He’s a superb and immense ambassador for the sport and I consider myself very fortunate to have met him. He’s a real charmer with a keen sense of humour.

    It would certainly help cycling in US if Armstrong were to perform a simiar function, but I can’t see it happening either, as you say, he’s got plenty of other irons in the fire.

    • Tim says:

      Hopefully the likes of Taylor Phinney will keep American interest in the sport high – but Lance’s shoes are big ones to fill!

  3. Pingback: Tour of Oman stages 3 & 4: Bos and Gesink complete Rabobank hat-trick « The armchair sports fan

  4. Pingback: Tour of Oman stages 5 & 6: Cavendish breaks duck, Gesink wins overall « The armchair sports fan

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