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Launching his trademark uphill sprint on the 2.8km climb to the finish, Boasson Hagen held off Nibali and Van Avermaet to win stage 2 of the Tour of Oman; the Norwegian also took the overall lead

Photo: QPC/Paumer/Kare Dhelie Thorstad

DIMENSION DATA

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EDVALD BOASSON HAGEN

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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TOUR OF OMAN

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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17.02.2016 @ 13:11 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) confirmed that he is back to his best after a few years of disappointment as he powered to victory in the first uphill finish at the Tour of Oman. After his team had helped control things on the 2.8km final climb, he launched his trademark uphill sprint and easily distanced Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to claim his second victory in a week and take the overall lead in the six-day race.

 

Edvald Boasson Hagen was once tipped to become a dominant figure in the cycling world and his versatility made people speculate whether he could win in every department: in sprints and time trials, on mountains and maybe even in grand tours.

 

The Norwegian has never really lived up to expectations and disappeared into anonymity while riding as a domestique at Sky. After joining Dimension Data, he has started to flourish again and after a solid second half of the 2015 season, he has hit the ground running in 2016, again confirming that he is a master of all trades.

 

After testing himself in the sprints in Mallorca, he excelled on the flat roads in the crosswinds at last week’s Tour of Qatar where he won the time trial and would have taken overall victory if it hadn’t been for an ill-timed puncture. Today he proved that he is also a great climber when he came out on top in the first uphill finish at the Tour of Oman, one day after winning the sprint for fourth in the opening stage.

 

The second stage of the race finished at the top of 2.8km climb that averaged 6.5% and so was tailor-made for puncheurs. This made Boasson Hagen confident in his chances and his Dimension Data team helped make sure that the Norwegian was well-positioned when the peloton split in the crosswinds during the fast run-in to the climb, and controlled things on the steep slopes before the captain delivered the good with his trademark uphill sprint.

 

The final three escapees were brought back with a little more than 15km to go, it was all back together. The peloton had now turned into a tailwind and were speeding down a fast descent on narrow roads while everybody was fighting for position.

 

The cross-tailwind made the peloton split as 20 riders were dropped, including Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Richie Porte (BMC) and Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep). More groups lost contact as CCC took control and suddenly Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) found himself in the second group.

 

As they entered the final 4km, Martin’s group had already been distanced by 50 seconds. Hitting the climb, it was Astana and Dimension Data taking over the pace-setting and they made the peloton explode.

 

The ground gradually got smaller and smaller until only a select group was left. Boasson Hagen turned out to be the fastest as he easily held off Vincenzo Nibali and Greg Van Avermaet in the battle for victory. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) was fourth and Davide Rebellin (CCC) was fifth.

 

Race leader Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) was unable to follow the best and lost 59 seconds, meaning that he slipped out of the lead. He now has a 2-second lead over his teammate Pauwels who is still in second place, with Nibali 2 seconds further back in third.

 

Boasson Hagen will get a chance to show another aspect of his talents in stage 3 which is the flattest of the entire race. A long day in the desert along mostly flat roads will end in Naseem Park where a bunch sprint is expected unless the wind comes into play.

 

 

A new uphill finish

After yesterday’s opening stage, the GC battle was expected to commence for real in stage 2 which brought the riders over 162km from Omantel Head Office in the capital of Muscat to the finish in Quriyat. After a flat start, the riders tackled the climb of Bousher al Amerat (3.4km, 8.85) after 33km of racing and then headed along flat roads to the finish. Here they ended the stage with a new uphill finish as the finish line was located at the top of a 2.8km climb that averaged 6.5%.

 

It was a sunny day when the riders headed out for the neutral ride. All riders who reached the finish in Al Bustan were present.

 

Six riders get clear

Unlike yesterday when the break escaped right from the gun, there was a big fight in the first part of the stage and no one had managed to get clear after 6km of racing. That’s when Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Argon 18), Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Jesper Asselman (Roompot), Stijn Steels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Alexander Kamp (Stölting) attacked and they quickly managed to push their advantage out to 45 seconds.

 

The peloton slowed down and after 20km of racing, the gap had gone out to 2.50. Ten kilometres later it was 3.30 as they hit the bottom of the first climb.

 

Pfingsten makes a solo move

The battle for the sprint points at the top of the ascent made the group split and it was Pfingsten who reached the summit first, a few seconds ahead of Steels with Dehaes in third. The German pressed on in a solo move and was now 4.15 ahead of the peloton.

 

The chasers caught the lone German and they again started to cooperate. However, Etixx-QuickStep had now taken control of the peloton and reduced the gap to 3.30 and seven riders from the Belgian team paced the group when the gap was down to 3.00 with 104.5km remaining.

 

Etixx-QuickStep in control

At the first intermediate sprint, Kamp made a small attack to take maximum points before Dehaes beat Steels and Pfingsten in the sprint for second. The Dane was brought back but there were no cooperation and several attacks in the front group.

 

Nonetheless, they had managed to extend their advantage to 3.25 by the time they reached the feed zone and it was still Etixx-QuickStep controlling things. Meanwhile, the attacking continued in the front group and Kamp and Asselman managed to drop their companions.

 

Three riders get clear

Perichon joined the duo and those three riders were the leaders after 106km of racing. With 45km to go, they were already 1.30 ahead of their chasers and still had 3.40 on the peloton.

 

The peloton finally started to chase in earnest and the headwind didn’t make it easier for the breakaway. The gap quickly dropped below the two-minute mark and with 20km to go, it was only just over a minute. Less than five kilometres later, it was all over and the scene was set for Boasson Hagen to take the win.

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