Brambilla concludes Tour of Oman in top 10
Last stage of the race saw Gianni Meersman attack and be part of the day's long break.
A 7-man escape made more interesting the sixth and final stage of the Tour of Oman, which was meant to be more a procession before the last bunch sprint of this edition. In the opening moments of the day, Gianni Meersman jumped clear from the bunch and was joined by Jesper Asselman (Roompot Oranje), Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare), Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Sebastien Minard (AG2R), Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Argon 18) and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen). They carved out a maximum gap of 2:35, but the peloton intensified the pace after the feeding zone and reduced that advantage, Astana and Katusha being the two teams who pulled at the front.
On the final circuit, the escape was caught and the Tour of Oman, which produced some thrilling racing this week, came to an end in Muscat, the country's capital, where Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the stage ahead of two Giant-Alpecin riders, Zico Waeytens and Søren Kragh Andersen, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) sealed the general classification victory, with Romain Bardet (AG2R) and teammate Jakob Fuglsang rounding out the podium.
For Etixx – Quick-Step, the Tour of Oman – which the team has raced since its inception, in 2010 – proved out to be a very good race: on stage 1, Bob Jungels nailed his first victory of the season following an audacious attack inside the final kilometers, while Gianluca Brambilla was always with the main group on the climbs, his consistence netting him a 10th place in the overall standings at the end of the week.
"If we look at the results we have to be very happy, because only three other teams took a victory this week. Winning a stage means you were competitive, that the guys worked well and they are at a good level for the next races", said sport director Rik van Slycke at the finish in Muscat. "I'm also happy because some of the guys made an important progress here, and also because I noticed a great team spirit throughout the week. Unfortunately, Daniel Martin was sick, but Bob Jungels and Gianluca Brambilla stepped in and recorded some strong results. Also, Laurens De Plus deserves a mention, as his ride gave us an extra reason to be happy. He found his place in the team and showed a glimpse of his potential, and also that he is willing to learn and gain experience."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele