Biermans takes an emotional first
February 10 th 2023 - 16:20 [GMT + 4]
Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) raised a finger to the sky on Friday, as he powered to victory in the first edition of the Muscat Classic. At 27 years old, the Belgian rider claimed his first professional win, a couple of weeks after his first podium finish. And it had a very special meaning for Biermans: “Last year, my girlfriend’s father passed away. He always said in his last words that I could win. This is for him.” He narrowly got the best of Jordi Warlop (Soudal Quick-Step) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën) in the sprint from a reduced group. The riders will face new battles from Saturday, with the 12th edition of the Tour of Oman.
The headwind faced by the peloton in the sunny settings of Al Mouj Muscat doesn’t deter an early attacker: Manabu Ishibashi (JCL Team Ukyo) jumps on the move after a couple of kilometres and gradually increases his lead, up to 16’ at km 71, just before he enters the last 100km.
Kern Pharma, Movistar and Soudal Quick-Step are the first to react. At the bottom of the first ascent of the day, in Bousher Al Amerat (3.5km at 9.5%), the climb reaches a maximum of 17’30’’. But Ishibashi loses 4 minutes to the peloton in this climb.
The gap quickly decreases and two of the strongest teams in the field, UAE Team Emirates and Astana-Qazaqstan, set a stronger pace as they enter the final circuit and tackle the second climb of the day, in Hamriyah (900m at 10.1%). Over the top (km 108.8), the gap is down to under 9 minutes.
And Bora-Hansgrohe put the hammer down. The bunch is reduced to some 50 riders. But they get back together ahead of the climb of Al Jissa (1.1km at 10%), inside the last 5km of the circuit. Meanwhile, the gap to Ishibashi drops down to 2’10’’ with 35km to go and AG2R Citroën also work at the front of the bunch. The Japanese attacker is eventually reeled in 30km away from the finish.
A very animated finale
The peloton explodes on the penultimate ascent of the day, in Hamriyah (21.7km to go at the summit). And attacks keep flying, with Roger Adria (Kern Pharma) and riders from Bora-Hansgrohe, Astana Qazaqstan and UAE Team Emirates among the most active.
Still, a group of 32 riders get back together ahead of the uphill sprint. And Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) was not gonna let his chance pass with a long and powerful sprint to hold off Jordi Warlop (Soudal Quick-Step) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën).