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  “Wins are wins and at the end everyone is counting, saying ‘16 wins is worse than 20 last year’ or something, so this counts also. It’s not a small race, it’s a hors categorie race and there are good rid...

Photo: Muscat Municipality/Paumer/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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BORA-HANSGROHE

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BORIS VALLÉE

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DIMENSION DATA

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EDVALD BOASSON HAGEN

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GERALD CIOLEK

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JEAN PIERRE DRUCKER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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KENNY DE HAES

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MICHELE SCARPONI

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MORENO HOFLAND

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PATRICK KONRAD

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RUDIGER SELIG

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SAM BENNETT

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SERGE PAUWELS

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM STÖLTING

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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TOUR OF OMAN

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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WANTY - GROUPE GOBERT

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18.02.2016 @ 19:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) continued his dominance of the sprints in 2016 by taking another comfortable victory in the first bunch kick at the Tour of Oman. After a nervous day on wet roads in the desert, he was clearly the fastest and held off Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) to win stage 3 while Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) defended the overall lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Alexander Kristoff: This win also counts for something

It was another nice winning story for Team Katusha and Alexander Kristoff in the Middle East. Kristoff won stage 3 of the Tour of Oman with finish at the Naseem Park not far away from country capital Muscat.

 

“Of course, everybody in the peloton looked at us so we had to take control of the race from the beginning. We did it together with Dimension Data because they protected Edvald (Boasson Hagen) and his race lead. Everything went ok, but with more or less 5 km to go, my last lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri punctured. So we had to play the game a little bit smart. Marco (Haller) did a great job in front, and later he pulled out until the mark of 500 meters to go. Actually, he did a work for two.”

 

“Later it was Michael (Mørkøv), who did the last lead-out until 200 meters to go. When I started my sprint, no one was able to pass me. I happy with this victory. On one hand,e we lost one important guy before the finish, from the other hand, we showed we could be very flexible in the final mix, and this is really great. It was a bit raining today, but I was ok with this weather. The only thing I was scared about was the slippery road in the final, but fortunately the road was dry,” explained Alexander Kristoff.

 

“With the puncture at the end we were a little bit scared because Jacopo is usually the last guy but in the end, the other guys did an incredible job to fix it. I was happy when we hit the front with 500 metres, I knew it would be hard to pass us.

 

“Even Van Den Broeck was pulling at the end so the whole team was contributing when we lost Jacopo. Marco Haller did work of two men, and then Mørkøv kept the speed really high and fast for me.

 

“I have exactly the same amount of wins that I had at this time last year. Last year I had a good season. So I’ll hope again for this year.

 

“Wins are wins and at the end everyone is counting, saying ‘16 wins is worse than 20 last year’ or something, so this counts also. It’s not a small race, it’s a hors categorie race and there are good riders here, good sprinters, it counts for something.

 

“There’s still [Andrea] Guardini, [Sam] Bennett’s not slow, he won the last stage in Qatar last year, and there are other sprinters too. So there are still fast guys here and I still have to go at my maximum to beat these guys.

 

“I need to get used to it, there are many races where I will be favourite. When the fastest sprinters are all there, then I’m usually not the fastest. You see Kittel is back, Greipel has beaten me a lot of times, also Cavendish, so there will be many guys who can beat me in the sprint. Here I was the fastest usually and that meant we had the pressure today.”

 

For Alexander Kristoff and Team Katusha it is already the fourth victory in the Middle East after three stage wins at the Tour of Qatar last week.

 

“It was nice for the guys to win, because we did not have so many chances to come to the sprint so far. This stage was ideal for us and already in Qatar we talked with the riders about this stage, so we were very motivated today. I saw a really great team work, the boys did a strong race and, of course, Alex did an excellent sprint to take another nice victory. The other teams looked at us today, but that's normal when your team already won three races in the last week. We were ready for that pressure on our shoulders. In the same time it is a nice feeling to be a leading team and to win,” said sports director Torsten Schmidt, who celebrated his 44th birthday.

 

“I want to congratulate our sports director Torsten Schmidt on his birthday. Actually, it was the best way to celebrate him and we did it!” added Alexander Kristoff.

 

In the general classification, Katusha’s Jurgen Van den Broeck is 13th, 26 seconds behind.

 

Runner-up Moreno Hofland: We dared to change our plans

Team LottoNL-Jumbo builds confidence with Hofland’s 2nd place in the Tour of Oman. Moreno Hofland placed second in the third stage of the Tour of Oman behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) today. The placing was a result of Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s great lead-out to Naseem Park.

 

 The results of the third stage – with Hofland in second and Mike Teunissen in fourth – indicated things are going well, but did not tell the entire story.

 

“We were able to carry out around 85 per cent of our plan,” sports director Jan Boven said after the race. “At the turning point of the stage, with six kilometres to go, we didn’t want to be in the front of the peloton, but we wanted to be close to it. It was all about having the courage to wait until the final 2.5 kilometres. We succeeded partly because of our soigneurs who were at the finish. They previewed the stage final for us and gave us information about the actual final.”

 

The final did not run without hitch.

 

“There was a road divider with 800 metres to go and not everyone chose the same side,” Boven added. “Tom Van Asbroeck and Moreno chose Kristoff’s wheel. Mike was somewhere else and wasn’t able to fulfil all of his tasks.”

 

Hofland explained that part of the lead-out was the most successful moment of the race.

 

“You’re never able to do it completely the way you planned it,” said Hofland. "It’s about anticipating when you’re not expecting something and that’s where we made some mistakes in the last weeks. Today, we dared to change plans and everything ended up very well.”

 

Hofland’s second place felt like a win for him.

 

“This gives me confidence and it’s good for the team’s morale, as well. We showed that we are able to aim for stage wins. Of course, I want to win them as well, but this second place is a nice step for us. Kristoff is really strong at this moment, as well.”

 

Hofland will not have the chance to sprint again tomorrow. A tough mountain stage is waiting for the riders in the Tour of Oman.

 

“We’re going to find out how good George Bennett is,” Boven said. “We’re going to lead him out until the foot of the final climb and afterwards, the team needs to rest as much as possible.”

 

Consistent Jans takes another third place, Dehaes takes jersey in Oman

Kenny Dehaes takes most aggressive rider jersey, Roy Jans third in Oman. In the Tour of Oman, Roy Jans managed to climb on the podium yet again. In the stage between Al Sawadi Beach and Naseem Park (176,5km) Jans sprinted to third behind Alexander Kristoff and Moreno Hofland.

 

“It was excellent teamwork yet again," Jans praised his teammates Robin Stenuit, Marco Marcato, Enrico Gasparotto, Simone Antonini, Mark McNally, Björn Thurau and Kenny Dehaes.

 

“At the end I got boxed in at the wrong side of the road. This is why I started my sprint too late. Marcato was with me and we made up some positions but it wasn't enough. Stenuit couldn't get passed anymore and I really missed that last man in the final."

 

For the third day in a row Kenny Dehaes was part of the day's breakaway. He won the polka dot jersey for most aggressive rider in Oman.

 

“It was my intention to be at the front and take points for this ranking. There are several teams after the lead in the classification."

 

Dehaes crashed in the first stage of the Tour of Qatar and saw his ambitions for the first race of the year go up in the air. 

 

“I wanted to show that I am good and you don't do that by just sitting in the peloton. This is also good practice for the Belgian races," Dehaes said.

 

To keep the most aggressive rider jersey will not be an easy task but Dehaes will try to go for it. For Roy Jans there is another sprint chance on the final day in the Tour of Oman to get that first season win. 

 

In the Ruta del Sol there was also a leader's jersey for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Jérôme Baugnies was part of the day's breakaway yesterday and took the points in the intermediate sprint ranking.

 

Jean-Pierre Drucker pleased to get chance to sprint for BMC in Oman

It came down to a bunch sprint on the third stage of the Tour of Oman with Jempy Drucker crossing the line in fifth place behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Daniel Oss finished in the top ten, crossing the line in ninth place.

 

“The team managed to keep me out of trouble and out of the winds so that I could save some energy for the sprint. I put everything on one card because I wasn’t in the best position, I was a bit too far back so I already did a sprint to get on Kristoff’s wheel,” Drucker said after crossing the line.

 

Drucker was thankful for the team’s decision to back him in the sprint.

 

“It’s nice to have the chance and have a card to play one day. So it’s even more important to prove that if they give me the chance that I’m up there.”

 

Greg Van Avermaet crossed the line with the peloton and retains his third place on the General Classification, six seconds behind race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

 

Zico Waeytens confirms sprinting potential in Oman

Team Giant-Alpecin placed Zico Waeytens in a good position in the closing kilometres and he managed to sprint to a top ten finish.

 

The team GC’s hopeful Tom Dumoulin finished safely in the bunch thanks to the strong teamwork of his teammates throughout the day. In the general classification, Tom Dumoulin is in 11th position while Edvald Boasson Hagen is still the race leader.

 

Coach Luke Roberts said:

 

“Today’s stage was a day for the sprinters to fight for the stage victory. Our goal was to put Zico and Tom in a good position in the final kilometers and not to lose any time in the general classification.

 

“In the bunch sprint, Zico had the wheel of eventual winner Kristoff but he hesitated too long before starting his sprint and he finished in 6th place which is very positive.

 

“The team did a good job today with Zico and Tom and we look forward to tomorrow with the uphill finish on Green Mountain.”

 

Edvald Boasson Hagen: I don’t think I will be able to defend the jersey

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka focus on tomorrow's important GC stage. With the leader’s jersey on the shoulders of the Norwegian Champion, Edvald Boasson Hagen, the African Team took responsibility for today's proceedings

 

Boasson Hagen was kept at the front of the peloton, allowing him to follow some of the faster wheels during the finale.

 

On the line Boasson Hagen would finish in 10th place. A result good enough to see the Norwegian keep the general classification and points lead while Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka remain on top of the team standings ahead of tomorrow's decisive stage to Green Mountain.

 

"Today was a good day. The team managed to control things really well and I managed to stay out of trouble," Boassan Hagen said. "For Green Mountain it's a different day and different terrain. I don't expect to keep the jersey but I'll try to fight."

 

“Today was a day where we took control to defend Edvald’s jersey, which we were able to accomplish as a team. On paper it didn't look very difficult but the wind, rain and at times, the hail made it quite tricky and nervous. We can play our cards tomorrow with several riders but we are not the favourites to win. We will give it our best shot on the final climb tomorrow which is very hard and very steep,” Serge Pauwels said.

 

Michele Scarponi: We will try to win the Tour of Oman with Nibali

 “We have a good chance of winning the Tour of Oman,” said Michele Scarponi. “And tomorrow we expect a decisive stage. The team is in good form and will work together for Vincenzo.

 

"These first three stages have served me to find the right rhythm, I’m riding well and I have a good feeling."

 

Vincenzo Nibali, winner on the Green Mountain in 2012, is among the favorites and hopes to recover 4 seconds that divide hom from race leader the Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

 

Meanwhile, Andrea Guardini finished eleventh in today’s stage.

 

Fortuneo-Vital Concept decided to five new signing Boris Vallee the chance in the sprint. He finished 15th.

 

"We made ​​a good team race today, we remained well grouped,” he said. In the end, we were positioned at the front to avoid any echelons. The whole team and Yauheni Hutarovich did a great job. I am very happy to have taken part in a sprint for the first time this season. Unfortunately, a small mistake prevented me from playing a main role.

     

”There is a very good cohesion in the team. Yesterday we helped Eduardo [Sepulveda] into a good position and to save his strength, today the team helped me tremendously and allowed me to be in good position for the sprint. 

 

”Tomorrow is a decisive stage. We want to position Eduardo well and accompany him to the bottom of the last climb, Green Mountain.”

 

No luck for Marko Kump in first bunch sprint in Oman

Lampre-Merida was ready for the sprint but the expectations were not fulfilled. Mark Kump was the designated sprinter for the blue-fuchsia-green team, but his lead-out train was derailed at 3 km to go, so the Slovenian rider could not participate in the sprint. He was 24th, just behind his team mate Luka Pibernik (23rd).

 

Rui Costa is 6th in the general classification and he’s ready to face the 4th stage, which will be probably crucial for the victory of the Tour de Oman.

 

Failed lead-out for Bora-Argon 18 and Sam Bennett in Oman

The Bora–Argon 18 train was ready to go for another podium finish. Unfortunately, the guys lost each other in a crucial part of the lead-out and Sam Bennett was locked on the wrong side of the pack. In the end he could not even start his sprint and finished in 26th place.

 

However, Patrick Konrad finished in the main pack and lept his overall lead in the young rider’s classification. It was a good day for him and a little bit of recovery from the last two demanding efforts. He moved up one spot in the GC and is now in an excellent 10th position, only 16sec behind race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen.

 

“Everything went perfect until 3k to go. We could save energy throughout the day and were really focused on the finish. Then we launched our lead-out a little late, and because everything was also frantic in the end, we unfortunately lost Sam (Bennett) with only 1k to the line. He got locked on the wrong side of the peloton and could not even start his sprint in the end. It’s a pity, but that’s the sprints. Tomorrow we all will help Patrick (Konrad), Emanuel (Buchmann) and Dominik (Nerz) to get safe into a good position at the start of the last climb.” Rudiger Selig said.

 

Gerald Ciolek unable to show his good form in first bunch sprint in Oman

Thanks to his aggressive display on yesterday’s stage where he won both intermediate sprints, Alexander Kamp wore the jersey for the most aggressive rider today. A group of five got away early and quickly got a gap of more than four minutes. There was no Team Stölting Service Group rider in the breakaway, and at the end of the day Kamp had to hand over his jersey to one of the escapees who’d collected points both today and on the first two stages.

 

Stölting supported Gerald Ciolek for the sprint, but unfortunately he was boxed in and only reached the 29th position.

 

Sports director André Steensen said:

 

“Our plan for today was to support Gerald for the sprint as he’s shown good form on the first stages. The guys did a good job to keep him out of trouble and position him for the sprint, and with 600-700 metres to go he was on the wheel of Kristoff. Unfortunately, another train came from behind and Gerald got boxed in, lost positions and wasn’t able to get a go in the sprint. The positioning is a big part of the sprinting, of course; but we had a good try and can use the experiences from today in the upcoming sprints.”

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