The 2nd stage of the Tour of Oman saw our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders come to the fore once again as Merhawi Kudus placed 4th, Nathan Haas 5th and Lachlan Morton 14th to give our African Team the lead in the teams classification. Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) won the stage ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).
Today’s 2nd stage of the Tour of Oman wasn’t particularly long at just 142km but 4 classified climbs including the tough final 1.8km climb to the finish would make for an exciting day of racing. After a very fast start where 50km was covered in the first hour of racing, 2 riders finally managed to go clear of the bunch. The gap quickly grew to 8-minutes before our African Team and AG2R La Mondiale decided to take control of the chase.
Jay Thomson did a mountain of work on the front of the peloton once again and this ensured the gap to the 2 early leaders started to decrease. Just inside of 20km to go, the break was caught and this sparked fresh attacks from the peloton. Once again Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka looked to keep things under wraps with our plan centered around the final 1.8km climb to the finish.
Passing under the 2km to go banner, the late attacking opportunists had all been reeled in. It was now down to the violent effort required on the 9% average gradient to decide the winner. Our African Team started the climb well placed with Astana and BMC Racing also also at the head of the race. Olympic champion, Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was first to attack but our young Kudus responded immediately.
Kudus then kept the pace up with the line fast approaching but Hermans, Costa and Fuglsang were able to come over our Eritrean in the final 100m to take the top 3 spots. Just behind Kudus, Haas brought home the next group of favourites for 5th place. Thanks to Lachlan Morton taking 14th place, our African Team took the lead in the team competition. Kudus also pulled on the white jersey as leader of the best young rider competition to cap off an excellent day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
Merhawi Kudus – Rider
It was a really good day today. The plan was actually for Nathan to go for the stage and I was to follow the GC guys. So that is what I did, just followed the moves and on the climb we passed a few riders before everyone started looking at each other. Van Avermaet attacked around 1km to go and I was feeling good so I crossed to him and we had a bit of a gap. I started my sprint too far out but it wasn’t too bad and it was also a good test before Green Mountain. In all I think it was a good team effort today.