Tour of Oman: Joaquim Rodríguez wins on Green Mountain as Chris Froome takes the lead
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tour of Oman: Joaquim Rodríguez wins on Green Mountain as Chris Froome takes the lead

by Ben Atkins at 7:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Oman
 
Catalan rider takes victory with final kilometre attack as climbers shatter the peloton

joaquim rodriguez

Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) put the uncertainty of his team’s WorldTour application behind him in the Queen stage of the 2013 Tour of Oman as he sprinted away from a select group of climbers to take victory on Green Mountain. The Catalan rider escaped inside the final kilometre of the 152.5km stage, between Samail and Jabal Al Akhdhar, and managed to hold off a chase from Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) to take his first victory of the season.

"It was really a spectacular win,” said Rodríguez afterwards. “I'm very happy for this performance; my rivals are great riders, so the fact I managed to take this stage makes this victory even more important.

“Obviously they're not at their top shape, and neither am I,” he reasoned, “but I'm in a good condition for February. I'm working very hard, I train a lot, and this win confirms I'm in the right path and gives me strong motivations to continue like this.”

Prior experience of the final climb to the top of Green Mountain, which has featured in the three preceding editions of the race, was a factor in Rodríguez’ victory, as he explained.

“I knew this climb very well, because this is the third year that I’ve taken part in the Tour of Oman,” he said. “It's really demanding, but I knew where to start my attack and this helped me a lot. Moreover, my teammates worked perfectly; they brought me into the first positions, in order to take on that climb at my best.”

Starting the day just 36 seconds behind race leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Froome’s second place was enough to earn the British rider the red jersey. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) had been four seconds ahead of Froome, and finished fifth on the stage, but the 23 second gap between the two riders - as well as a six second time bonus for Froome - meant that the Team Sky rider moved ahead.

The stage was dominated by a five man breakaway, made up of Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), Grégory Rast (RadioShack-Leopard), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Andreas Schillinger (NetApp-Endura) and Matthias Friedemann (Chanpion System). The quintet escaped in the 11th kilometre, but was only allowed to build a lead of 4’25” in the first half of the stage and was caught as the final climb began.

From that point the attacks began, with the final selection being forced by Contador; the Spanish rider was joined by Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) at first, but Rodríguez, Froome and Evans soon made it to the front. Rodríguez attacked in the final kilometre and, despite a fierce chase from Froome in the steep climb to the line, managed to take the stage victory.

The break of the day takes a while to establish itself

There was a flurry of attacks in the opening moments of the stage, but it wasn’t until the 11th kilometre that Rast and Smukulis made the successful break, and were quickly joined by Bookwalter, Schillinger and Friedemann. With none of the riders any threat to Sagan’s overall lead, the Cannondale team allowed the group to get away; after 48km the quintet was 4’25” ahead, but this was to be its maximum advantage.

For the first time in the race the break did not contain Bobbie Traksel (Champion System), who was leading the Aggressive Rider category; the Dutchman’s teammate Friedemann was in the group, however, looking after team interests, but the German couldn’t prevent Schillinger from taking first place at the first intermediate sprint after 55km.

Gradually the gap to the breakaway group began to fall, with Team Sky leading the peloton behind it. With 40km to go it had been cut to less than three minutes but, with little urgency in the chase, it was still 2’55” as the break entered the final 25km.

The peloton closes in as the final climb approaches

As the climb to Green Mountain approached, however, the peloton began to accelerate and close the gap more quickly. As Friedemann took the second intermediate sprint, ahead of Rast and Smukulis, with 11.5km to go, the peloton was just 1’50” behind, and the lead was little more than a minute as it hit the lower slopes of the final climb a kilometre and a half later.

The front of the peloton soon had the break in sight on the climb, and it was soon caught.

As the peloton split into several pieces Contador was the first of the big names to attack, and he was chased by Nibali. The Saxo-Tinkoff rider sat up to wait for the Italian and the two of them began to pull away from the rest.

Behind the two leaders, a Froome, Evans and Pozzovivo were chasing, but it was Rodríguez that got up to the front of the race with Froome, to form a group of four inside the final kilometre. Evans managed to join up with the group but, having made it across the gap, Rodríguez attacked and rode on alone to take the stage victory.

Froome gave chase, but was unable to catch the Catalan rider, with Evans taking third behind him.

Result stage 4
1. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky @ 4s
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 22s
4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 27s
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana @ 36s
6. Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ @ 43s
7. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling @ 52s
8. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 57s
9. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ @ 1’01”
10. Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team @ 1’09”

Standings after stage 4
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 24s
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 25s
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana @ 34s
5. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team @ 45s
6. Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ @ 49s
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 58s
8. Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling
9. Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 1’15”
10. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ @ 1’23”

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