Tour of Oman stages 3 & 4: Bos and Gesink complete Rabobank hat-trick

Stage 3  – Sur to Sur, 208km

Théo Bos won his second sprint finish in three days at the Tour of Oman at Sur. The 27-year old easily outpaced Leopard-Trek‘s Daniele Bennati and HTC-Highroad‘s Matt Goss in a bunch finish at the end of the race’s longest stage, covering 208km in more than five hours.

A disinterested peloton were happy to allow a five-man break to slip off the front almost immediately and establish a seven-minute advantage before the sprinters’ teams, with HTC-Highroad and Sky to the fore, went to work and completed a routine catch with around ten kilometres remaining.

The finish was long, straight and slightly downhill, but into a fairly stiff headwind. Led out by Rabobank teammate Graeme Brown, Bos opened up his sprint from a long way out but comfortably held off Bennati by more than a bike length, with the previous day’s winner and overall leader Goss third. It was the second day in a row in which Bennati had finished second, and the sixth time already in 2011 he has been in the top three. He has yet to win a stage.

Théo Bos takes a comfortable second win at the Tour of Oman (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Bos was pleased to have held on for the win:

All the time I could sense someone in my wheel – I think Bennati – but he couldn’t come past me. Now I feel very strong in the sprint, even after such a long and hard day like today. 210 kilometres in the heat is pretty tough.

The former track sprinting and keirin world champion admitted he is still learning the art of road racing with his Rabobank squad:

I’ve got a good sprint, but I really need to improve the rest of it – my climbing, riding in crosswinds, everything. But I think I’m on the right team to help me to do that.

Goss was disappointed with third place:

The sprint didn’t really work out how we would have wanted today. There was a bit of chaos in the last few hundred metres, and most of us got taken off the edge of the road, and that gave Bennati and Bos about 10-15 metres on us straight away. Unfortunately we couldn’t shut it down.

The four bonus seconds Goss earned for finishing third ensured he held onto the red jersey by two seconds over Bennati, with Sky‘s Edvald Boasson Hagen third overall, ten seconds back.

Stage 3 result:

1. Théo Bos (Rabobank) 5:14:41

2. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) same time

3. Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) s/t

4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) s/t

5. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) s/t

Stage 4  – Sultan Qaboos University to Jabal al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), 157km

Climbing specialist Robert Gesink claimed an impressive solo triumph on the race’s mountain stage. In doing so, he not only took over the race lead from Matt Goss, but notched up Rabobank’s third win in four stages to add to Théo Bos’s two sprint victories. The 24-year old dedicated the victory to his father, who died last autumn.

With temperatures touching 30°C and a finish at the 1,235-metre summit of Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), this was always going to be the toughest day of the Tour of Oman. Crosswinds in the final 40 kilometres only added to the difficulty for the peloton.

Seven riders launched a successful escape after 42 kilometres, quickly establishing a three-minute lead before Katusha and Rabobank took up the chase. As the pace intensified and the crosswinds started to buffet the main bunch it split into two, with all the key players in the front group. They caught the escapees with around 25 kilometres remaining, forming a 40-strong group.

The Jabal Al Akhdhar climb features a 599-metre altitude gain over 5.8km at an average gradient of 10.3%. The first two kilometres are relatively mild but the last two average a strenuous 13.5%.

The red jersey of overnight leader Matt Goss was dropped at the four-kilometre mark as the serious climbing began in earnest. An elite group of 11 battled it out for the stage win. Astana‘s Alexandre Vinokourov was the first to attack, but he was soon reeled back in.

Gesink and HTC’s Michael Albasini then came to the front, but with two kilometres to go Gesink accelerated away and no one was able to follow his pace. He powered onwards, finishing 47 seconds ahead of second-placed Edvald Boasson Hagen, who headed the straggling remains of the lead group over the line. Quick Step‘s Dries Devenyns was third, four seconds behind the big Norwegian.

Gesink now takes over the red jersey with a lead of 44 seconds over Boasson Hagen ahead of tomorrow’s crucial individual time trial, with Devenyns a further 13 behind.

Gesink claimed victory on the summit finish to seal Rabobank's third win in four stages (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

The Dutchman, whose ability in the high mountains propelled him to sixth place at both last year’s Tour de France and the 2009 Vuelta a España, dedicated the victory to his late father, who was seriously injured in a cycling accident last October and died two weeks later:

I did it for my dad. I tried not to think about him too much because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get to the finish the way I did, but it was just on the finish line, and just after, that I remembered him.

For the past month I’ve been doing everything on my training schedule and then a little extra as I wanted to show the world, my family – and my dad, of course – that I wanted to continue for him, so it’s a really nice feeling that it’s worked out.

Having targeted this stage, everything went according to plan for Gesink:

I wanted to attack two kilometers from the finish and I pulled it off. Then again, it wasn’t so easy. When you’ve got a hilly stage like that so early in the season and you’re not yet used to going so deep [in intensity], it’s not kind on the legs.

Tomorrow sees an 18.5km individual time trial at Al Jissah which is likely to decide the final overall classification. Gesink holds a 44-second advantage over Boasson Hagen, but the Norwegian is the stronger rider against the clock, and has the confidence of having won the ITT here in last year’s inaugural race.

Sunday’s final 157km stage starts at Qurayyat and will probably finish in a bunch sprint at Mattrah Seafront, with significant time gains unlikely.

Stage 4 result:

1. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 4:03:58

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +0:47

3. Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) +0:51

4. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri) +0:53

5. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Cervélo) +0:53

General classification:

1. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 16:15:18

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +0:44

3. Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) +0:57

4. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Cervélo) +1:03

5. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri) +1:03

Links: Tour of Oman official

Tour of Oman posts

Stages 1 & 2: Bos and Goss gather no moss


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

One Response to Tour of Oman stages 3 & 4: Bos and Gesink complete Rabobank hat-trick

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

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