As expected, stage 2 of the Tour of Oman brought up some important changes in the general classification.
Jesper Asselman (Roompot Oranje), Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Alexander Kamp (Stölting Service Group), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon 18) and Stijn Steels (Topsport Vlaanderen) were the six riders to book their place in the day's break. The peloton was facing a longer stage than the one on Tuesday, and an even tougher finish, at Quriyat, where a 2.8 km-long climb averaging 6.5% awaited them. As expected, the bunch began chasing hard once it hit the second half of the day and neutralized the escape with around 20 kilometers to go. That was the moment that saw BMC and Dimension Data come at the front, pushing a hard pace and shattering the pack.
On the final ascent of stage 2, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) proved to be the strongest, taking the victory and with it the red jersey off Bob Jungels' shoulders, Tuesday's winner, who dug deep to limit the losses and eventually came 59 seconds behind, together with teammate Laurens De Plus. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) finished second, respectively third, while the best placed Etixx – Quick-Step rider was Gianluca Brambilla. Victorious in Trofeo Pollença-Port de Andratx in January following a valiant attack, the Italian came sixth at Quriyat, same time as the winner, and climbed to 12th in the standings, just 24 seconds adrift.
"We controlled the race from the beginning with Iljo and Guillaume, who did a fantastic job. Then, in the last 20 kilometers, BMC and Dimension Data rode full gas and split the peloton in the crosswinds. Bob had to put in a big effort to come back and that's why he lost some important energy. But we still were up there thanks to Gianluca, who finished inside the top 10 after a strong ride", said sport director Rik van Slycke.
On Thursday, the Tour of Oman peloton will enjoy the easiest stage at this year's edition in terms of parcours, without any categorized climb on the menu. Rolling out from Al Sawadi Beach, the riders will head to Naseem Park, where the sprinters will be in action.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele