Keisse spends final day of Oman in the escape
Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team concluded the race with a trademark action of its experienced rider.
Every time Iljo Keisse makes it into a break, you know this spells trouble and a hard day ahead for the peloton, as the Quick-Step Floors rider never gives up, grits his teeth and really puts in the watts, emptying the tank so he can go all the way to the line and get the victory. Most recently, he did that on the last stage of the Tour of Oman (The Wave – Mattrah Cornice, 130.5 kilometers), and even though he was caught by the peloton in closing kilometers, his ride still stands as an impressive one.
Iljo escaped early on stage six and was joined by Aime De Gendt (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Benjamin Giraud (Delko Marseille). The three enjoyed a maximum gap of 2:45, and despite the fact that both GC and sprinters' teams were on their tail, they kept powering together until they entered the final circuit, were they held a 1:20 advantage over the pack. There, Keisse – clearly the strongest of the trio – made a move similar to the one in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and continued the stage solo.
Eventually, the 34-year-old Belgian was brought back by the furious pack, and the stage was won in a sprint by Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), who outkicked Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Sacha Modolo (UAE Abu Dhabi), while Ben Hermans (BMC) took home the general classification, ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Fabio Aru (Astana).
"We were only three guys in the escape, so it was difficult to make it. We would have needed two, maybe three other riders in order to stand a real chance. But I tried, because two years ago I featured in the break in this stage and finished second, so it was a slight possibility to go all the way. Unfortunately, the peloton was nervous all day, so we couldn't get a big gap and I was caught inside the last four kilometers", said Iljo Keisse at the finish in Mattrah Corniche.
Quick-Step Floors had two men in the top 15 overall, David De La Cruz (11th) and Laurens De Plus (13th), who throughout the week came to the fore once the road started to rise, showing a promising form for their future races of the season. The team's Middle East campaign will continue next week, when our riders will line up for the third edition of the Abu Dhabi Tour (23-26 February).
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele