Ulissi punches over Yitti Hills
February 14 th 2023 - 14:59 [GMT + 3]
After he came close to victory in Qurayyat and Al Hamra, Diego Ulissi rose his arms in triumph on Tuesday, in Yitti. Stage 4, the longest of the Tour of Oman 2023 (204.9km), had an explosive finale in store for the peloton with a couple of ascents in the last 10 km. Pascal Ackermann, Ulissi’s teammate in the ranks of UAE Team Emirates, went on the move on these up and down sections before he was caught with 2km to go… It was then time for the Italian puncheur to display his power and take victory ahead of Axel Zingle (Cofidis) and Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe), while Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) retained the leader’s red jersey. After a week of racing in the Sultanate, a final challenge awaits the rider: the mighty climb up Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), where the overall winner of the Tour of Oman will be crowned.
As usual in this Tour of Oman 2023, attackers get on the move immediately after the start, from Izki. But the 204.9km ahead of them inspire many riders, leading to a relentless battle for the break of the day.
Josef Cerny (Soudal Quick-Step) tries to make the most of his raw power to make a difference. Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon) is also determined to race at the front to defend his golden jersey as the leader of the most aggressive rider classification.
Two hours of battle for the break
But everyone get back together ahead of the first intermediate sprint (km 52.4). Fredrik Dversnes seizes the opportunity to take 3 points and the lead of the virtual standings against Meijers (13 pts vs 11).
It takes two hours of racing at 47.3km/h for a group of attackers to eventually make the break with Dversnes, back at the front after he was reeled in by the bunch, as well as the U23 World Champion Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana Qazaqstan), Urko Berrade (Kern Pharma) and the winner of the African Games Youcef Reguigui (Terengganu Polygon).
Movistar, Arkéa-Samsic and Cofidis work together
After such a battle, they enter the last 100km with a lead of 3’40’’. Matteo Jorgenson’s Movistar drive the bunch to defend the red jersey and they quickly receive support from Arkéa-Samsic and Cofidis. They control the gap around 2 minutes. Reguigui dominates the second intermediate sprint (49.2km to go) ahead of Dversnes, who extends his lead in the most aggressive rider classification. Reguigui drops back to the bunch as his breakaway companions enter the last 20km with a lead of 1’10’’.
Ackermann attacks, Ulissi delivers
Dversnes, Fedorov and Berrade are caught at the bottom of the penultimate climb of the day, in Al Jissah (2.5km at 6.9%). Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) set a brutal pace on the ascent and a small group emerges at the front. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) attacks on the downhill and manages to open a gap of 25’’. He’s caught inside the last 2km to go. Ivan Cobo (Kern Pharma) launches a counter-attack on the final ascent (1.6km at 6.6%). He’s caught right at the summit, inside the last kilometre. The battle for the stage win comes down to a sprint in a reduced bunch. And Diego Ulissi demonstrates once again his expertise in this area. Meanwhile, Matteo Jorgenson safely defends his red jersey on the eve of the final battle up Green Mountain.