Gaviria, the expert of the openers
February 10 th 2022 - 16:26 [GMT + 4]
Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) raised his arms as a victor at the end of stage 1 of the Tour of Oman, 138km from Al Rustaq Fort to Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Colombian ‘Misil’ outsprinted Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco) to take the leader’s jersey as early as his first day on the race, like he did on the Tour de France in 2018. Sprinters surged on the uphill final stretch after a day animated by the attackers. Mohammed Al-Wahibi made the early breakaway for the Oman National Team, and Peio Goikoetxea (Euskaltel-Euskadi) showed his strength in the hilly section of the stage. The second day is flatter, but the 167.5km on the coast should bring intense racing again on the way to the Suhar Corniche.
The Sun graces the 100-man peloton starting from the historic settings of the Al Rustaq Fort. Riders are eager to get on the move, and three riders quickly jump ahead of the bunch: Peio Goikoetxea (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Mohammed Al-Wahibi (Oman National Team) and Jan Dunnewind (Team Novo Nordisk).
The gap reaches a maximum of 3’15’’ at km 25, but sprint teams show their intent to control the day with Mark Cavendish’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Fernando Gaviria’s UAE Team Emirates and Kaden Groves’ BikeExchange-Jayco at the helm of the bunch. The leaders cover 44.4km in the first hour, and the peloton trail by 2’.
Goikoetxea on his own
Goikoetxea dominates the first intermediate sprint of the day (km 58.5) ahead of Al-Wahibi. The gap is down to 1’35’’ on the line. The attackers keep working well together until the steep climb of Fanja: 1km at 9.5%.
Goikoetxea drops his companions on the ascent while Team DSM put the hammer down in the bunch. The high pace splits the bunch in three parts, and brings the lone leader’s advantage down to 15’’ at the summit, with 47.5km to go.
The Basque attacker is still at the front for the second intermediate sprint (km105.5), ensuring the lead in the most aggressive rider classification. As calm returns in the bunch, Cavendish and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) enjoy the opportunity to grab a few bonus seconds (2 and 1).
The peloton eventually catch Goikoetxea as they enter the last 10km, with a new acceleration from Team DSM. Their Danish leader Soren Kragh Andersen even went on the move but the peloton quickly got back to him, as UAE Team Emirates were setting Gaviria for victory.