2/12/2013 - NEWS!


Tour of Oman: Sagan takes second stage

Cannondale rider earns season's first win
Peter Sagan reminded everyone of his immense class and cycling talent and gave Team Cannondale its first ever victory by winning stage 2 of the Tour Oman with a powerful late attack that allowed him to cross the finish line alone and produce another unique celebration gesture as he crossed he line. 

Two late climbs split the peloton, with Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and most of the other overall contenders in the selection. However, Sagan also had the form to use the rolling climb in the final kilometre as a spring board to chase down a late attack and distance his rivals.

He finished five seconds ahead of Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard), with Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) third and Nibali fourth in the same time, while Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was a surprise but impressive fifth at seven seconds, with Froome sixth, at the same time.

Forty other riders, including Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) and Contador all finished at 11 seconds.

Sagan celebrated Team Cannondale's first win by pointing to his green jersey and giving a satisfied thumbs up. After Ivan Basso's links to Dr. Fuentes were exposed in detail by the Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian-based team had something to celebrate.

Thanks to a 10-second time bonus, Sagan also took the race leader's red jersey from stage 1 winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who finished with most of the other sprinters at 5:33. Gallopin is second overall at nine seconds, with Elmiger third at 11 seconds.

"I'm very happy. This is my first win of season. It's also important for Cannondale, it's the first win for the new team. The pressure's off the whole team now," Sagan said in his ever-improving English.

"It was a good finish for me. I felt good, and I think my condition is improving. I had good legs today."

Sagan also explained how the race exploded on the final climb and the high-speed descent to the finish.

"It was difficult after the descent, Nibali attacked with two other riders and nobody wanted to work. I pulled on the front going at about 45kph, but everybody else left a gap. So I just went at the same pace on the last short climb, caught the others and then I attacked alone and arrived alone. The finish suited me but you always need the legs to win. I had them today."

The last climb explosion

Before the fireworks in the finale, the stage had been another relatively quiet day in the saddle, with Bobbie Traksel (Champion System) again going on the attack to score points for the polka-dot most aggressive rider's jersey.

He went away with Tomohiro Kinoshita (Japan) after just four kilometres and stayed out front for most of the day. Traksel won the first sprint to retain the jersey but the strong headwind on the way back made it hard going and the two were eventually caught by the peloton on the short but steep Al Hamriya climb. 

The race exploded on the final Al Jissah climb, six kilometres from the finish. The riders know it well because it is the main road to Muscat from the luxury hotel complex where everyone on the race stays. It is not especially long, but it is steep and is wide open and exposed to the wind. 

Contador attacked with Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) but other riders chased after them over the top and on the sweeping, breathtaking descent towards the finish. Cancellara, Nibali and Sagan lead the peloton down the descent, touching close to 90kmph at one point.

As the road flattened, Gallopin took the initiative with a late attack that also drew Nibali and Elmiger. The trio got a gap and most of the other riders gave up hope. Not Sagan. He opened up the power, set off in pursuit and then blasted past them to win alone. 

Race organiser Eddy Merckx watched Sagan celebrate is first win of the season with admiration. No doubt he would have won in exactly the same way. 

Wednesday's 190km third stage is from Nakhal Fort to Wadi Dayqah Dam, with a series of short climbs and kick-ups in the final. Sagan won here last year and is favoured again to strut his stuff and show off another celebration pose.

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Photo: © Bettini

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