The 3rd stage of the Tour of Oman was not too dissimilar to yesterday’s with another short sharp finishing climb deciding the winner. Today it was Soren Kragh Anderson (Sunweb-Giant) who came out on top, followed by Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing). Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Merhawi Kudus placed 8th and kept his lead in the white jersey competition.
The 162km stage which finished in Quriyat was always going to come down to the 2.5km finishing climb today and our African Team was focused on being one of the first teams to the base of the climb. Merhawi Kudus, Lachlan Morton, Nathan Haas and even Mekseb Debesay have shown they all have pretty good legs at the moment for this type of finish. After a long early breakaway attempt by 6 riders came to nothing, it was a flat out race to the base of the climb for the last 20km.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was able to call upon our sprint train specialists, Jay Thomson, Kristian Sbaragli, Tyler Farrar and Youcef Reguigui to deliver our climbing quartet to the final 3km. It was a big fight for position but our African Team held its own and started the rise to the finish in good shape. Julien Arredondo (Nippo-Vini Fantini) was first to attack followed by Laurens de Plus (Quickstep-Floors).
The accelerations did not upset our rhythm too much as we used our numbers to keep things relatively under wraps. With Kudus as our main GC contender, it was clear the climb was not steep enough for our slightly built Eritrean and just making sure no time was lost became the order of play. As the group blew apart, Kudus and Morton made the front split with Haas and Debesay just a few seconds back. Andersen had the superior kick over the final 200m and took the win. With Kudus 8th, Morton 10th and Debesay 15th, our African Team had no trouble in retaining our lead in the team competition.
JP Heynderickx – Sport Director
So far things are going really well in Oman, yesterday we had two top 5 places and today two in the top 10 after another uphill finish. It was not steep enough for Merhawi but he is still well placed in GC and Lachlan is also showing he is good. Like everyone though, we all know in two days when we race the Green Mountain that that is where the big GC battle will be. We can take confidence from the last two stages.