Jenthe Biermans of Arkea-Samsic rode to his first professional triumph in the first edition of Muscat Classic at Al Bustan here on Friday.
The Belgian rider finished the inaugural 173.7 km road race, acting as a prelude to the 12th Tour of Oman, in four hours 27 minutes and 48 seconds to top the podium.
Soudal Quick-Step’s Jordi Warlop of Belgium (04:27:48) and Italian Andrea Vendrame of AG2R Citroen Team (04:27:48) claimed second and third spots respectively in the exciting sprint which started from Al Mouj.
Biermans, 27, raised a finger to the sky as he made the finish.
“It feels amazing! It’s very emotional for me because it’s my first victory in my seven years of pro career. Last year, my girlfriend's father passed away. He always said until his last words that I could win. This is for him.”
“Two weeks ago, I got my first podium in Valencia with second place. My team-mates supported me throughout the race and I’m happy to finish it off and take my first professional victory,” Biermans added.
Mark Cavendish, making his Astana Qazaqstan Team debut, was among the several major sprinters who didn’t finish the race after losing touch with the front of the race over the final climbs.
The riders will face new battles from Saturday with the Tour of Oman first stage starting from Al Rustaq Fort to Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre for a distance of 147.4 km.
Manabu Ishibashi (JCL Team Ukyo) made an early attack defying the headwind faced by the peloton in the sunny settings of Al Mouj.
Ishibashi lost four minutes to the peloton in this the first ascent of the day, in Bausher-Al Amerat (3.5 km at 9.5 per cent) after Kern Pharma, Movistar and Soudal Quick-Step caught up in the race.
UAE Team Emirates and Astana-Qazaqstan set a stronger pace as they entered the final circuit and tackled the second climb of the day, in Hamriyah (900m at 10.1 per cent). Over the top (km 108.8), the gap is down to under 9 minutes.
Bora-Hansgrohe also pulled through as the bunch was reduced to 50 riders. Other riders joined back ahead of the climb of Al Jissa (1.1 km at 10 per cent), inside the last 5 km of the circuit.
AG2R Citroen made rapid strides at the front as the gap to Ishibashi dropped down to 2’10’’ with 35 km to go. The Japanese attacker is eventually reeled in 30 km away from the finish. The 30-year-old gained over 15 minutes on the pack at one point, before he was caught up after 140 km riding solo.
Bora-Hansgrohe, Astana Qazaqstan and UAE Team Emirates all splurged ahead on the penultimate ascent in Hamriyah (21.7 km to go at the summit). Roger Adria of Kern Pharma showed his intentions clearly in the pack. Adria ended up seventh.
A group of 32 riders was in contention ahead of the uphill sprint. Biermans made a powerful sprint using his full energy to hold off Warlop Vendrame for his maiden title.
Muscat Classic Results
1. Jenthe Biermans (BEL) Team Arkea-Samsic 04:27:48
2. Jordi Warlop (BEL) Soudal Quick-Step + 00
3. Andrea Vendrame (ITA) AG2R Citroen Team + 00
4. Francesco Busatto (ITA) Intermarche-Circus-Wanty + 00
5. Maxim Van Gils (BEL) Lotto Dstny + 00
6. Diego Ulissi (ITA) UAE Team Emirates + 00
7. Roger Adria (ESP) Equipo Kern Pharma + 00
8. Ide Schelling (NED) BORA-Hansgrohe + 00
9. Lennert Teugels (BEL) Bingoal WB + 00
10. Carlos Verona (ESP) Movistar Team + 00