The opening stage of the Tour of Oman ended with a mass sprint and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Kristian Sbaragli come close to victory by finishing 2nd, just behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) taking 3rd place.
Today’s 176km stage was seen as the only clear sprint friendly stage of this year’s Tour of Oman and so it was no surprise to see a big charging peloton coming into Naseem Park to decide the stage. Katusha and Quickstep-Floors ensured this was the case by controlling the 6-rider breakaway which formed in the opening 10km of today’s stage.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka exercised patience during the first half of the stage, conserving energy in order to give Sbaragli the best run-in to the final as possible. The break was caught with 10km to go and our African Team then made sure it’s presence was felt when positioning Sbaragli for the final.
A crash in the closing kilometer took out one of the favourites for the stage, Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Floors) but thanks to the work of our African Team, Sbaragli was not affected and went on to challenge Kristoff’s for the win. By taking 2nd on the stage, Sbaragli also sits 2nd on the overall GC. Our other African Team riders all finished safely in the main bunch too.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
It was a really warm day out there today. At the start everyone was quite stressed about the wind so all day it was quite nervous in the bunch. I’m quite happy with how today went, not necessarily for the result but it was a very flat stage and I was able to do a sprint without getting blocked or any other problems for once. Our plan was always to prepare the sprint for me and I must say all the guys in our team worked 100%. So this is a really nice feeling to take into the next stages.