Kristoff sprints to Stage 1 victory

MUSCAT: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) won the opening stage of the Tour of Oman 2017 in a sprint finish ahead of Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) on Tuesday. The stage started off this morning from A’Sawadi Beach in the Wilayat of Barka in the Governorate of South Al Batinah for 176.5 km. Abdullah bin Mohammed al Braiki, Wali of Barka, declared the start of the stage. As many as 144 cyclists representing 18 teams from various countries are taking part in the Tour of Oman 2017. Through Stage One, the cyclists passed by Al Musannah, Al Rustaq, Al Awabi and then to Muscat Expressway till Al Naseem Park.
The Norwegian won the opening stage of the race as Tom Boonen crashed out of contention with 700m to go. It is Kristoff’s second win of the season after winning a stage at the Etoile de Bessèges in early February and a good indicator of form as he builds towards Milan-San Remo and the Classics season. 927804It was bad news for Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) in his final season, as he crashed out of contention for the sprint with 700m to go.
It was a fast day on the opening day for the riders in the Oman heat, with five men, Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), Aime de Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen), Christophe Masson (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) and Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier Triestina) making it into the breakaway early on. They established a maximum three-minute gap on the peloton, covering almost 50km in the first hour of racing. But, it never looked likely they would make it to the finish.
De Gendt and Fonzi dropped with 25km to go with the leaders’ advantage down to 1-05, and Kristoff’s Katusha team did their best to begin reeling the final three in. They were then finally caught with 10km to go, and the bunch began to wind up for a sprint finish to the day. Kristoff was then able to lay a marker for the rest of the race although the next opportunity for a sprint could come on the week’s final stage to Matrah Corniche on Sunday. Wednesday’s stage will see the riders tackle several difficult climbs on the 145.5km stage to Al Bustan. — ONA