2018 TOUR OF OMAN: HAAS TAKES OVERALL LEAD.
Aussie rider Nathan Haas of Katusha-Alpecin team raced to victory at the end of a testing stage two of the 2018 Tour of Oman on Wednesday.
Haas sprinted to the line from a compact group of riders and let out a long scream in celebration after the day's series of climbs had whittled down the bunch.
Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing came in second, with Astana's Alexey Lutsenko of Kazakhstan third. Haas now moves into the overall lead ahead of Van Avermaet.
Tears of joy could be seen in Haas' eyes as the puncher claimed his first victory with his Katusha-Alpecin kit and his first win since 2016 Vuelta a Burgos.
'I just wanted to give myself a nice Valentine's present today,' Haas said of his loud victory celebrations. 'I've been trying to win a bike race, a real bike race for a while, so for me to finish it off, means a huge reaction. I've been saying to everyone that they'll know it when I won because they'll hear it.
'I woke up this morning and had a really good feeling about today, my legs felt fantastic. I love coming to Oman. It's a fantastic race and for me it's one of the best ways to transition from Australia back to Europe.'
The action-packed stage two of 167.5km began from Sultan Qaboos University to Al Bustan and Haas made the most of his explosive abilities to win.
The challenges lying ahead, with four categorised climbs, attracted many attackers. It took 5km of battle for four of them to break away from the bunch - Loic Chetout (Cofidis, Solutions credits), Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo), Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Danny Pate (Rally Cycling).
They increased the lead to four minutes but never got higher. As the attackers tackled the first climb of the day, at Fanja, the gap had stabilised around three minutes. More than enough for Loic Chetout to snatch the points at the summit.
The Frenchman repeated the feat atop the climbs of Al Jabal street and Al Hamriya, en route to claiming the golden jersey as leader of the most aggressive rider classification.
The attackers gave their all in the final part of the stage, the most demanding. But Spanish race veteran Markel Irizar was finally caught in the climb of Al Jissah, with only 5km to go. BMC Racing Team and Astana Pro Team were then the most active teams at the front of the pack.
But they couldn't fend off Haas as he went for his first victory since August 2016.
The Tour of Oman continues on Thursday with stage three, from German University of Technology to Wadi Dayqah Dam covering 179.5km - the longest 2018 stage.
General classification after stage two: 1 Nathan Haas (8hr 20min 46sec), 2 Greg Van Avermaet (at 0:04), 3 Alexey Lutsenko (0:06), 4 Merhawi Kudus ( at 0:10), 5 Vincenzo Nibali (at 0:10), 6 Dries Devenyns (at 0:10), 7 Odd Christian Eiking (at 0:10), 8 Miguel Angel Lopez (at 0:10), 9 Fabio Felline (at 0.10), 10 Fabien Doubey (at 0:10).
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|Publication:||Muscat Daily (Muscat, Oman)|
|Date:||Feb 15, 2018|
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