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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Willcox defends ITT crown for third straight time

Cycle KOM rider second behind overall leader Said al Rahbi after Stage 5

Cycle KOM – NRO star Paul Willcox defended his individual team trial (ITT) crown for a third straight time in the Oman Cycling Association (OCA) League Stage 5 at Wadi Al Abyadh in Nakhl on Friday.


The British cyclist stormed to the top of the 24km stage in South Al Batinah in 31 minutes and 10.09 seconds.


Team-mate and fellow British cyclist David Hynes took the second spot in 32:40.32 while Oman Club’s Faisal al Maamari claimed third in 33:02.67.


Hashim al Farsi, Omani rider of Cycle KOM, finished fourth (33:57.33) and Oman Club’s Ahmed al Battashi (33:59.14) finished fifth in the race.


The win enabled Willcox to reduce the deficit against overall leader Said al Rahbi of Oman Royal Army with two more stages to finish the League. Said has 400 points while Willcox with 385 points is second and Salalah Club’s Mundher al Hasani is third with 340 points.


Faisal al Maamari (278) is fourth and David Hynes (245) is fifth in the overall table.


The British veteran cyclist said he felt some pressure before defending his ITT title for the third time.


“I felt some pressure coming into the ITT as the favourite and also attempting to defend my title for the third consecutive time. Also a strong finish and I knew I could close the gap in the Open GC, so I was quite nervous on the start line,” Willcox told Oman Observer.


“I was third to last off and got myself into a good rhythm and found myself at the turn with an average of 48.5km/h. There was a strong crosswind on the home section which meant for hard finish, but I kept the power down and when I crossed the line I knew my time was good averaging 48km/h for the 24.5km.”


The Cycle KOM had a good day in office with a one-two finish in the stage and several riders of the team in the top five of the three sections.


“I’m happy to have jumped into second and now with 15 points of Said al Rahbi. It was a satisfying day with good finishes for my team-mate David Hynes and the other Cycle KOM riders making the top 10,” he added.


OMANI RIDERS DOMINATE U23


Omani riders are dominating the under-23 category with Said al Rahbi in front followed by Mundher al Hasani and Faisal al Maamari. Oman Club’s Islam Ayad (214) is fourth and Cycle KOM’s Bradley Perkins (212) is in fifth position.


Willcox extended his lead in the 40 plus category with team-mates Gregory Pollard (163) in second and Daniel Baldwin (150) in third position.


Capital Team’s Simeon Gelacio (83) is fourth followed by Mansoor al Araimi (48) in fifth in the category.


The sixth stage of OCA League will be held on February 24.


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