February 20, 2011 4 Comments
On a difficult, up-and-down course, red jersey Robert Gesink consolidated his lead at the Tour of Oman by registering his first professional time trial victory. The Dutchman now holds a 1:13 advantage over Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen which all but guarantees him overall victory.
The 18.5km course at Al Jissah featured a combination of testing climbs and speedy descents, on which the fastest riders touched 110kph. The lumpy profile helped negate the advantage of the time-trial specialists and played into the hands of climbers such as Gesink.
The serious action did not start until the top 35 riders, with HTC-Highroad‘s Marco Pinotti becoming the first man under 30 minutes, stopping the clock at 29:44. Soon after, Gesink’s Rabobank teammate Lars Boom looked on target to beat Pinotti, but an unshipped chain scuppered his chances and he finished 15 seconds down.
The quality of the benchmark set by Pinotti was confirmed when the rainbow jersey of world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara fell three seconds short of his time. He was not knocked off the top of the timesheets until Farense‘s Giovanni Visconti, the fifth-last man to go, powered home in a time of 29:36 to go first by eight seconds.
Fourth-placed Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo) finished 45 seconds slower than Visconti, while Dries Devenyns (Quick Step), third overnight, was exactly one minute behind. Boasson Hagen, Gesink’s nearest rival for the overall lead, had his ride slightly compromised by buffeting from a low-flying race helicopter but nonetheless posted 29:49, good enough for fifth on the day.
The best was saved for last, however. Lifted by the presence of the red jersey on his shoulders and looking smooth, powerful and confident throughout, Gesink crossed the line in 29:20, 16 seconds faster than Visconti. Most crucially, he was a whole 29 seconds faster than Boasson Hagen.
Gesink’s second straight stage win made it four out of five for Rabobank, after Théo Bos had claimed victory on the first and third stages.
The race leader expressed his surprise at winning the stage:
It’s a really big surprise to have won the time trial. When I took off on the course, my goal was to try and keep the red jersey. To win a time trial is a huge surprise but the course was very difficult and suited me. The fact that we were on normal bikes helped me.
Stage 5 result:
1. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 29:20
2. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri) +0:16
3. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) +0:24
4. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) +0:27
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +0:29
Stage 6 - Qurayyat to Mattrah Seafront, 157km
Britain’s Mark Cavendish broke his 2011 duck, taking his first win of the season in the final stage as Robert Gesink safely negotiated the 157km route to take overall victory by 1:13 over Edvald Boasson Hagen.
A five-man break established itself early on and held out until the last of eight 7km finishing circuits, when the peloton led by Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad team and the Farnese squad of Andrea Guardini (who won the final stage of last week’s Tour of Qatar) finally caught them.
HTC’s Hayden Roulston and Matt Goss (the winner of stage two) led out the sprint. Cavendish took over with 200 metres to go, kicking hard and comfortably finishing a length ahead of Katusha‘s Denis Galimzyanov, with Guardini third.
The red jersey of Gesink finished safely in the bunch, having avoided a crash with four kilometres to go. Boasson Hagen also made it home without incident, claiming both the runner-up spot and the points classification for the second year in a row. Guardini’s Farnese teammate Giovanni Visconti claimed the last step on the podium, having finished second to Gesink in the stage five individual time trial.
Gesink was delighted with his overall performance after a trying off-season in which he had lost his father, who sustained fatal injuries in a cycling accident in October:
I just came here to try and do my best during two days, the mountain stage and the time-trial and I won both of them. Today I secured the overall lead so it’s a great feeling. It’s a perfect start to my season. First race, first victory, I’m really happy. It’s a great feeling to win here in Oman.
And Cavendish was equally pleased to get his first win under his belt, as he continues his preparations for Milan-San Remo next month:
I had Hayden Roulston and Matt Goss looking after me in the finish, and they did a good job holding onto me and I did a good job holding onto them all the way through. Goss went at the end, I left a gap then went for it myself. It was difficult with the wind, but it all worked perfectly. It’s always good to get the first victory of the year, too, it didn’t work out the other day [when he lost by a few centimetres to Théo Bos on stage one] but now I’ve got it and I’m happy.
Only in its second year, the Tour of Oman has produced some excellent and varied racing, cramming sprints, a summit finish and a time trial into its six days. Théo Bos has added to his track pedigree and emerged as a genuine sprint contender on the road too. And Rabobank teammate Gesink will hope to repeat his fine form from this week in the Grand Tours, looking to improve on his impressive sixth-place finish at last year’s Tour de France.
Stage 6 result:
1. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) 3:39:58
2. Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) same time
3. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri) s/t
4. Matteo Pelucchi (Geox-TMC) s/t
5. Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) s/t
1. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 20:24:36
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +1:13
3. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri)+1:19
4. Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad) +1:52
5. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo) +2:04
Tour of Oman posts
- Robert Gesink extends his Tour of Oman lead with time trial win (velonews.competitor.com)
- Cavendish races to Oman stage win (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Mark Cavendish wins final stage of Tour of Oman for first victory of 2011 (telegraph.co.uk)
- Robert Gesink wins Tour of Oman, as Mark Cavendish takes final stage (velonews.competitor.com)