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"But it was always a struggle because inside of me I always had the desire to do more. That wasn’t easy. But when you start the season like this, with far more decent condition, it’s more straightforward to go for the win.&...

Photo: Muscat Municipality/Paumer/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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BORA-HANSGROHE

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DIMENSION DATA

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EDUARDO SEPULVEDA

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EMANUEL BUCHMANN

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GEORGE BENNETT

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GIANLUCA BRAMBILLA

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JURGEN VAN DEN BROECK

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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MICHAEL REIHS

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PATRICK KONRAD

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RICHIE PORTE

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ROMAIN BARDET

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RUI ALBERTO FARIA DA COSTA

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SPORT VLAANDEREN - BALOISE

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STÖLTING SERVICE GROUP

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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TOUR OF OMAN

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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19.02.2016 @ 19:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) showed that he is finally ready to have a good spring season after years of early-season travails when he rode to an impressive solo win in the infamous queen stage of the Tour of Oman. On the brutally steep slopes of the Green Mountain, he dropped his fellow climbers with a strong solo attack and put 9 seconds into Romain Bardet (Ag2r) at the finish while his teammate Jakob Fuglsang was three seconds further back in third. Nibali is the new leader of the race.

 

We have gathered several reactions:

 

Vincenzo Nibali: It is so much easier to win when you are not trying to catch up

“I was joined by Romain Bardet 100 meters from the finish, I attacked again and he came off,” Vincenzo Nibali SAID after his victory in the fourth stage Tour of Oman. 

 

“In 2012, I took off right from the start of the climb and did it all alone, but this time, it wasn’t the same at all. You needed strong nerves to wait all the way until the end. It's different; I was much younger then, with less experience. Now I have more experience under my belt, and a solid team.

 

“The extra two kilometres changed how you managed your strength. Even though we won, we made a technical error by using too heavy a gear. It was very hard to make a selection because 39x29 was too big on this gradient, so we tried to wait until the final 300 metres and then push it hard.”

 

“The training camp in Tenerife is giving good results and tomorrow I expect a new battle. I am confident.

 

“Obviously in the last two years, with the Tour in mind, I started my season a lot more calmly. But it was always a struggle because inside of me I always had the desire to do more. That wasn’t easy. But when you start the season like this, with far more decent condition, it’s more straightforward to go for the win.

 

“Already in Argentina, I was doing well, just suffering on one or two stages, but here, I'm already reaching some of my best condition ahead my first goal at Tirreno-Adriatico. We’ll see. I'll try to finish well here in Oman, recover a bit at home, then think about Tirreno, and then the most important event for me, the Giro.

 

“It’s much more straightforward when you know you’re well prepared and you’ve started well. It becomes easier to manage your season because you’re not trying to catch up.”

 

With two stage to go Nibali who also leads the points classification, has a 15-second advantage over Bardet and 24” over teammate Fuglsang. 

 

Romain Bardet: I was beaten by one of the greatest champions

"We had a big day in the heat. I am happy with the result but also the collective work. The AG2R La Mondiale team was able to take the race in hand with Astana. I attacked 3km from the finish to rejoin Fulgsang and then, with Nibali, it was decided by the legs. I am very happy because we have been talking a lot about this stage and even if we are only in February, the scenario confirms my quality work this winter. Tomorrow, there is still a big stage with more climbing. Everything is still possible."

 

“It was very difficult, very steep and the heat was stifling,” he later told L’Equipe. “But it's a good test with a good team around me. We took the responsibility to chase. I lost the sprint in the final 150 meters against Nibali: no regret. The legs are good: they must be since I was second on the Green Mountain. That's better than earlier this week. 

 

”I am satisfied although I felt very close to victory. But I was beaten by one of the greatest champions of our generation. When I tried to attack with 150m to go, he pretended to take a break and then he accelerated really hard and I did no longer have the legs to follow but I raced like I wanted. I attacked several times io the climb, I enjoyed myself. It is too bad bad that there is no victory in the end but I feel that I'm progressing every year and that's a good sign. 

 

”We had divided the roles with Domenico Pozzovivo: he had to mark Nibali and I had to mark Fuglsang. And when I saw Fuglsang anticipate at the bottom of the climb, I made ​​an effort that Nibali did not. It may have played a role but I like to ride like that, being on the attack. I have no regrets. We must not forget that it’s my first stage race so I'm already very happy with my condition. Two years ago I was eighth here. I can see my progress.”
 

Tom Dumoulin surprises himself with fourth place on Green Mountain

Today’s stage was the first real climbing test for the team of the 2016 season and Tom Dumoulin had a strong ride up Green Mountain and took a notable 4th place, 18″ seconds behind race winner Vicenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team).

 

The team positioned Tom Dumoulin at the base of the climb and from there it was up to them to stay in contact with the leaders as long as they could and help Tom stay in a good position at the front of the bunch. It was a strong performance by him and he managed to stay in contact with the leaders on the tough uphill finish.

 

Tom Dumoulin jumps to 4th in the GC, 40″seconds behind the race leader.

 

After the race coach, Luke Roberts said: “The team did a great job in putting Tom in a good position at the bottom of the climb and from there it was up to Tom to do his best. During the climb, Tom managed to pace himself and was always in close contact with the leaders.

 

“Overall, 4th place is a very good result for Tom, especially this being only his 4th day of racing in the season. I am very satisfied with the teamwork that the guys showed here today and everyone had a strong performance.”

 

“I did not do the whole climb at exactly the same power, but I tried to,” Dumoulin told Cyclingnews afterwards. “I was not able to follow the strong attacks, so I decided not to do that. It’s hard, it’s just a hard mountain.

 

“The whole climb was hard and with the heat too, it was tough. In the last two kilometres, my power also dropped down but I got closer to the first riders, so I think everyone blew up a little bit with the first heat of the year.

 

“I thought I would be ok, but this is good and I wasn’t expecting good. I’m getting better day by day and today was a really good test, I’m really happy with it. I was never going to win, but I was still close, so that is good.

 

“[Paris-Nice] is a completely different race. I am always good in the heat, but Paris-Nice could have really bad weather and then it’s going to change maybe. But I’m definitely happy with my shape and happy with my form ahead of Paris-Nice.”

 

Rui Costa: My legs are still not as good as I hoped

Rui Costa rode to fifth and is also fifth overall.

 

"I want to thank the whole team for their work. Without them I would not be in the top-5 of the race. A special hug to my brother who has always been with me and did a very good stage," he wrote on Facebook.


"It was not easy to keep pace on the last climb, but I clung to the handlebar and suffered to the finish line. My legs are still not as good as I wanted, but we take it day by day. I tried my best and I think I got a 5th place against quality riders. We have a great result and I am pleased.

 

"Tomorrow, even though it does not end uphill, we have another important day that can change the GC. Let us be vigilant and united to continue to be in the top 5 here in Oman."

 

Merhawi Kudus shows his great climbing potential on the Green Mountain

Dimension Data certainly did not have the favourite for today's stage but in Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Edvald Boasson Hagen the definitely had a few cards to play.  With no place to hide on this unrelenting climb, those who were feeling good on the day came to the fore. For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka it was Kudus, Pauwels and impressively, Boasson Hagen who were hanging tough after some solid team work placed them at the head of the race. 

 

Kudus, the young Eritrean star, was the first finisher in 6th place. While Boasson Hagen had to give up his red and green leaders jersey's to Nibali, a fine ride saw him place 10th on the stage and now the Norwegian sits 6th on the general classification. Kudus also moved up to 9th on the general classification after his performance today.

 

”This was a very hard climb. My legs felt good before the stage so I was motivated for the last climb. The team did a great job to help me today before the climb and then I just tried to do the best ride possible. Nibali was very strong but I am happy with my result today,” Kudus said.


”After the break went we were controlling the whole day with Astana and AG2R, Tyler Farrar was doing a lot of good work on the front,” sports director Jean Pierre Heynderickx said.” The boys were working very well together and with 3km to go we still had Merhawi, Serge and Edvald in the leading group. Jacques was not too far behind but he had 2 mechanicals on the climb. At the finish Merhawi did a great a job and also Edvald, on a very, very steep climb it was a great ride by him.”

 

George Bennett takes next step in development with seventh place on the Green Mountain

George Bennett stayed strong during the long final climb up Green Mountain in the fourth stage of the Tour of Oman today. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider from New Zealand climbed to the seventh place behind winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team).

 

Sports director Jan Boven already said yesterday that it was Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s plan to bring Bennett to the foot of Green Mountain in the best position as possible. The others had to save energy during the rest of the stage. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders followed the plan to perfection.

 

“It was a hard stage final, but the rest of the day was quiet,” Boven said. “The team led out George very well. During the stage, the pace in the peloton was high because the breakaway group was quite big. We came through that part of the race without spending too much energy. Maarten Wynants stayed with George for a while, but George had to go his own way afterwards.”

 

The Kiwi delivered a great performance.

 

“It was too steep to ride in small groups,” Boven added. “George was with Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant - Alpecin) for a while, but had to let him go in the end. I’m very satisfied with his performance. When you take a look at the riders who are competing here and keep in mind that he was struggling with a jetlag during the first days, he showed that he is in a very good condition.”

 

Bennett said that he is glad with the way his sports director Boven and coach Mathieu Heijboer approached him this week.

 

“They didn’t put any pressure on me,” he added. “They really kept in mind that it’s hard to go for a top spot in the general classification after a long trip and a time difference of nine hours, and I like that. It took a while before I recovered from the jetlag, so I wasn’t even able to follow the first 50 riders in the race in the first days. Today, I felt much better and my seventh place gives me a lot of confidence. I took the next step in my development in these days and I hope that I can confirm that during Paris-Nice next month.”

 

On Saturday, there is another tough stage waiting for the riders in the Tour of Oman. In the stage final, they must cover the Bousher climb three times.

 

“We’re climbing it twice from one side and once from the other side, and the pace will be high,” Boven said. “We’ll try to put George in a good position again.”

 

Brendan Canty: It's surreal to be up there with Nibali on the climbs

The power of neo-pro Brendan Canty showed in Stage 4 at Tour of Oman, with a sensational 8th place (+:45) in a world class field on the hilly and windy stage. Canty moves into 7th in the GC (+1:31) and takes over the young rider classification after four days of consistent top level riding.

 

“Today was another really good opportunity to test myself against some of the best riders in the world. It was definitely surreal riding alongside Nibali, Bardet and Fuglsang in the closing KM’s of the days stage,” Canty said.

 

“It is easy to get caught up with who I was racing, but it’s also important to believe that I am capable of beating these guys. That’s something that the team has definitely been trying to get through to me, and so getting a top ten result on today’s stage will definitely help.”

 

Canty is the only non-world tour rider in the top ten in the general classification. Canty stayed at the front end of the field throughout the day and was in the select group as they started up the steep slope of Green Mountain. When Stage 4 pitched into double digits, the small leading group featured the likes of all the big names, with Canty right along side them.

 

“Brendan had a excellent ride up Green Mountain against some truly world class climbers. It was a long stage and position going into the base of Green Mountain was critical – the 6 other guys worked all day to protect Brendan and then put him in a perfect position going into the climb, which set him up perfectly. The way he rode the climb and against some of the worlds best was very impressive. He’s now in the white jersey and sitting in 7th on GC – the next two stages are hard and we’ll fight to keep the jersey and maintain the top 10 on GC, which was one of our goals coming into the race, ” Keith Flory, Sports Director said.

 

Stage 1 and Stage 2 featured some climbing and Canty was able to establish himself in the top twenty on both days, and a field finish in the flat Stage 3. The back half of Tour of Oman is for the climbers and Canty is known for his strength in the hills. A tight GC situation sets the stage for some exciting racing on the penultimate route of stage 5, which features a triple ascent of the Bousher Al Amerat climb before a fast run down to the line.

 

“My teammates here have been doing a really good job to make sure I’m looked after all day and delivering me with good position at the start of the key climbs. The job here is far from over with two more difficult days ahead, so it’s important to focus on these coming days and finish it off for their work,” Canty said.

 

Young Belgian climber surprises with top 10 on the Green Mountain

Floris De Tier confirmed his huge potential by taking ninth.

 

"I'm super happy with this performance. It never was really quiet during the queen stage. The nervousness increased in the run-up to Green Mountain. The team has dropped me off in the first twenty, they did a perfect job at the base,” the young climber Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise told Sporza.

 

"On the climb I stayed 40 meters behind the great stars for a long time. It's super nice that I could climb with riders like Nibali and Dumoulin.

 

"Those guys are at another level on the climbs. But I am still young (24, ed.) and as I continue to grow for another two years, maybe I can be there too.

 

"I want to be good in the Walloon classics. In the autumn I set my sights on the Tour of Burgos and difficult one-day races. The Olympics? That would be a very big dream come true.”

 

Eduardo Sepulveda: I was too big for this climb

Fortuneo-Vital Concept captain Eduardo Sepúlveda tried to respond to attacks in the last two kilometers but had to settle for 11th, 1.10 behind Nibali. He is 11th overall. 

 

"Today, like every day, we worked as a team and it worked well. I felt good, but I might be a bit too big for the last few kilometers which were very steep," he said.

 

"The team rode on the front of the peloton and worked for to position Eduardo in good conditions at the bottom of the last climb. Eduardo felt good but the last two kilometers that were added by the organizers were so hard. His gear was perhaps not suited to these high percentages. Tomorrow it is a complicated stage, it may suit him," sports director Sebastien Hinault said.

 

Konrad loses white jersey, Buchmann shines on the Green Mountain

Emanuel Buchmann was the best BORA – ARGON 18 rider and crossed the line in 13th - just 1:29 behind the stage winner. The German National Champion is now 12th in the GC.

 

Patrick Konrad lost his leader’s jersey in the U-25 classification. Still he did a good ride, taking 19th place in today’s stage which brings him to 15th spot in the general classification. In the young rider classification, the two BORA – ARGON 18 riders are now right behind each other in 5th (Buchmann) and 6th (Konrad) place.

 

"It was a hard day. I have to admit, that I am not 100% satisfied, but still also not disappointed,” Konrad said. “I had a cold in Mallorca during the Mallorca Challenge, therefore I had to give up one race there. I think these race kilometres in the mountains were missing today. But I think my shape in general is developing in the right way. That also counts for Emu (Buchmann), our best rider today, and Dominik (Nerz) who finished just 7 seconds behind me today. I think our team is already strong also in the mountains this year.”

 

In-form Brambilla moves into the top 10 in Oman queen stage

Starting the stage in 12th place, Gianluca Brambilla was aware he needs a strong ride to make a jump in the overall standings, and that's exactly what he did on the demanding ascent, showing the same form and resilience he displayed since the beginning of the season. The relentless Italian finished 1:29 behind the stage winner, and as a result he is now 10th in the standings, at his first participation in the Tour of Oman.

"It was very hard today, not only because of the double-digit climb, but also due to the heat, which made me suffer a lot, especially in the last kilometers. My teammates were very important and I have to thank them for their help. I am happy with my result and I will try to keep my top 10 on Saturday, when another tough day awaits", said the 28-year-old Italian from Bellano.

 

Jurgen Van den Broeck confident after difficult day on the Green Mountain

Two Team KATUSHA riders, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Pavel Kochetkov, finished in 16th and 17th places, respectively, 2.02 behind Nibali.

 

“The climb was really steep and hard, but, of course, we knew that before. At the beginning of the climb I immediately tried to get into my rhythm and to follow my own pace. It was the right decision for this climb. I want to thank Pavel for his great support during this hard finale. I tried to end as high as possible, so I have to admit that this is the best I could do today. Of course, this is my first race and I am sure that in the coming races everything will be much better. I am on the right way,” said Jurgen Van den Broeck.

 

Van den Broeck is still 13th, 2 minutes 34 seconds behind the leader.

 

Richie Porte pleased with outcome of Green Mountain test

Daniel Oss made a ten rider breakaway that broke clear 10 kilometers into the 177 kilometer stage and managed to stay away until the base of the climb when the peloton finally chased the group down.

 

For Richie Porte, the Green Mountain it was a hard, but good test of the legs.

 

“It’s such a hard climb. Yesterday when I said it was like the Zoncolon some of the journalists laughed but it really is, especially with that extra 1.8 kilometers. I’ve been up here once before and it hadn’t changed much, it’s still a hard climb,” Porte said afterwards.

 

“It’s one of those rides that I think you’re better off riding by your power meter if you can but if you don’t have the legs then that doesn’t really matter. I got dropped and then came back a little bit like a yoyo, but I’m happy with how it went. The guys still got around me today which was nice.”

 

Greg Van Avermaet, who was sitting third in the General Classification before stage 4, has slipped out of the top ten.

 

Stölting continue aggressive riding style in Oman

On today’s Tour of Oman queen stage, Michael Reihs spent the day in a ten-rider breakaway that was caught only on the final climb. Rasmus Guldhammer and Christian Mager tested their form on the climb and reached the finish close to each other, in 34th and 37th place, respectively.

 

Sports director André Steensen commented: “We tried to be active in the beginning of the stage as today’s final climb didn’t suit our riders. Romain Lemarchand joined several attempts, then Michael made it into the 10-rider group. Unfortunately Astana and Dimension Data never gave them much of an advantage; Michael tried his best on the climb but was caught with 5 km to go. Christian and Rasmus both showed progressing form and did their best on the climb. Tomorrow’s stage is short, but it will be very intense and hard.”

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