Two punctures in the finale prevented CCC Sprandi Polkowice from fighting for top places on the opening stage of Tour of Oman.
Info: February 14th, Al Sawadi Beach – Naseem Park, 176,5km
Weather: Hot, sunny
The race got off to a fast start. 5 riders – Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), Aime De Gendt (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Alan Marangoni (Nippo – Vini Fantini), Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier Triestina) and Christophe Masson (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) attacked early on, recording average speed of almost 50km/h after first hour of racing. The peloton was not going slowly either, as the biggest gap of the day was only 3:30.
The breakaway started to fall apart with 25km to go, when Fonzi and De Gendt got dropped. At that point the main bunch was just 1 minute behind and with 10km to go it was all over for the remaining trio.
It wasn’t a lucky stage for few riders, who experienced some unexpected difficulties in the finale. Simone Ponzi, the main sprinter of CCC Sprandi Polkowice for this stage, as well as his young, lead-out man, Michał Paluta both punctured inside the last 3 kilometers. They were given the same time as the winner, but were unable to fight for top places. Tom Boonen (Quick Step Floors) and Tyler Farrar (Dimension Data), two big favorites for the finish, didn’t contest the sprint either, due to a late crash.
Everything went according to the plan for Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) though, who claimed the win. He outsprinted Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team). Adrian Kurek was the team’s top finisher, as he took 24th place.