Tour of Oman: Gesink grabs emotional victory on Green Mountain, takes race lead
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Tour of Oman: Gesink grabs emotional victory on Green Mountain, takes race lead

by Shane Stokes at 8:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Oman
 
Boasson Hagen closest threat heading into time trial

Robert GesinkDutch climbing sensation Robert Gesink scooped both the stage and the leader’s jersey on today’s 157 kilometre leg of the Tour of Oman, being clearly strongest on the uphill finish of Jabal al Akhdhar, also known as Green Mountain.

The Rabobank rider attacked with impressive force two kilometres from the top of the final ascent, a six kilometre climb averaging more than ten percent, and finished well clear of his closest rival, Sky Procycling’s Edvald Boasson Hagen. He dedicated the win to his father, who died after a mountain bike crash last October.

“It was not easy, it was really painful,” Gesink said afterwards. “It’s still early in the season and you are not used to going so deep. But it’s pretty amazing that it worked out well. I was here for this stage and when you win by 44 seconds, it’s nice that it works out.

“I have been training hard recently in order to be good here and it has paid off. I previously said that I wanted to attack with two kilometres to go and I did it. It all went as we wanted.”

Gesink crossed the line a full 47 seconds ahead of Boasson Hagen, who was in turn four seconds clear of Dries Devenyns (Quick Step). Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli) and US GC contender Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo) were both 53 seconds back.

Gesink had started the day seventeen seconds off the race lead of Matt Goss (HTC Highroad), and seven behind Boasson Hagen. Once the time bonuses were calculated, Gesink ended up 44 ahead of his Sky Procycling rival. The Norwegian won the final time trial last year and will most likely be his biggest rival in tomorrow’s 18.5 kilometre showdown. The TT abilities of the two suggest that the jersey could change hands but, for now, Gesink will savour the moment and his strong start to the season.

The stage was run off in temperatures of almost 30 degrees. After approximately 40 kilometres of racing, seven riders out of today’s 126 starters went clear. These were Marko Kump (Geox-TMC), Tomas Vaitkus (Astana), Kevin Van Impe (Quickstep), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Mark McNally (An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Grant Thornton). They worked well together and built a lead of over three minutes, although some chasing behind pared back the advantage and maintained it around two minutes.

The peloton started putting the hammer down after 120 kilometres of racing and soon afterwards, the bunch split into two. Riders from Garmin-Cervélo, Team Sky and others were driving the pace in order to distance some rivals, and a gap of 35 seconds opened up. Once onto the climb of Jebel Al Akhdar, the peloton exploded and Gesink made his bid for success. He was clearly the strongest, hitting the line well clear of the others.

The stage victory follows on from wins by Theo Bos on stages one and three. Only Goss has interrupted a clean streak by the Rabobank riders, who are having a dream race thus far.

“With three stages so far, this is very successful for us,” confirmed directeur sportif Nico Verhoeven.

Team Sky counterpart Servais Knaven was also happy with the day’s result, even if Boasson Hagen missed out on the win. “It was another great team performance,” he said, explaining how the team put the hammer down and reduced the front group to 30.

“We knew it was going to be a tough finish today, but also that Eddy was in great shape and really motivated. Having the team behind him certainly helped and Edvald climbed superbly….At the top of the climb, he still had enough hunger to sprint to the line and ensure he limited his losses, that was also fantastic to see. Anything is now possible with two stages to go."

Tomorrow’s 18.5 kilometre time trial is a strong opportunity. “Edvald has been looking forward to the time trial all week and has that extra incentive now with him being less than a minute back on Gesink. He won it here last year and will definitely be aiming to do the same again this time around. He's in good form and is one of the world's best at them, so we're all excited for him.”

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Tour of Oman (2.1), February 15 – 20:

Stage 4, Sultan Qaboos University - Jabal al Akhdhar (Green Mountain):

1, Robert Gesink (Rabobank Cycling Team) 4 hours 3 mins 58 secs
2, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) at 47 secs
3, Dries Devenyns (Quickstep Cycling Team) at 51 secs
4, Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli) at 53 secs
5, Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Cervelo)
6, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) at 1 min 2 secs
7, Maxime Monfort (Leopard Trek) at 1 min 5 secs
8, Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad)
9, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Sky Procycling) at 1 min 12 secs
10, Patrik Sinkewitz (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli) at 1 min 29 secs


General classification after stage 4:

1, Robert Gesink (Rabobank Cycling Team 1) at 6 hours 15 mins 18 secs
2, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) at 44 secs
3, Dries Devenyns (Quickstep Cycling Team) at 57 secs
4, Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Cervelo) at 1 min 3 secs
5, Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli)
6, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) at 1 min 9 secs
7, Maxime Monfort (Leopard Trek) at 1 min 15 secs
8, Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad)
9, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Sky Procycling) at 1 min 22 secs
10, Patrik Sinkewitz (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli) at 1 min 33 secs

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