2018 TOUR OF OMAN: ASTANA DUO DOMINATES JEBEL AKHDAR FINISH.
Miguel Angel Lopez and the Astana team conquered the steep slopes of Jebel Akhdar at the Tour of Oman, with the Colombian climber winning stage five, while teammate Alexey Lutsenko finishing second to take the overall lead in the race.
The duo went into the final kilometre alone after Astana set a high pace, with chaser Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) finishing third at 12 seconds down.
A six-man break formed early in the race and stayed away until the climb to the finish. The last of them was caught halfway up the 5.7km climb. That set the stage for Astana's action, as Jan Hirt lead his two teammates up the steep road.
The one-two on Jebel Akhdar also sets up a one-two in the overall classification for Astana.
Lutsenko now leads Lopez by 11 seconds, with Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), who tried to go with the Astana riders but finished fourth at 15 seconds, is now third overall at 28 seconds.
Lutsenko took the leader's jersey from the Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team).
The Kazakh team only has one more stage (135.5km) from Al Mouj Muscat to Muttrah Corniche to face on Sunday en route to the overall victory in the 2018 Tour of Oman.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) was one of the favourites going into the stage but was not up to the challenge, finishing 1:32 down. Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) fought hard to defend his overall placing, finishing fifth on the stage at 22 seconds.
The Australian is fifth overall at 32 seconds. American Pete Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) was sixth at 25 seconds, with young British rider Dan Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport) an impressive seventh at 33 seconds.
Stage five was short but not sweet at 152km, with the testing 5.7km climb up the slopes of Jebel Akhdar and a hot day making for a tough stage.
At the start from Samail, a 6km battle led to a six-man breakaway with Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Benjamin Declercq (Sport-Vlaanderen Baloise), Pim Ligthart (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Nicholas Schultz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Robin Carpenter and Adam De Vos (Rally Cycling). Their lead rose to 4min20sec at 22km and Nibali's Bahrain-Merida decided to control the pace en route to Jabel Akhdar.
Astana Pro Team, Team Dimension Data and Fortuneo-Samsic worked with Bahrain-Merida. But the attackers pushed hard and enjoyed a 5m15s lead as the race entered the last 50km. The gap was down to 1m50s when they tackled the mountain (5.7km, 10.5 per cent). Carpenter was then able to hold off the pack until 3km to go.
Astana immediately set a hard pace in the climb, so much that only Izagirre was able to follow Lopez, Lutsenko and Hirt with 2.5km to go.
Lopez then took over and led Lutsenko to the overall lead while claiming victory for himself.
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|Publication:||Muscat Daily (Muscat, Oman)|
|Date:||Feb 18, 2018|
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