Muscat: Slovakia's Peter Sagan of the Cannondale team won a second consecutive stage on the Tour of Oman yesterday to strengthen his grip on the overall race leader's red jersey.
Sagan emerged victorious on the 190km third stage from Nakhal Fort to Wadi Dayqah Dam in the Hajar mountains.
In the same spot where he claimed his first win for Cannondale a year ago, Sagan beat Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet of BMC and France's Tony Gallopin of RadioShack to take victory on the line.
Sagan, who won three stages on last year's Tour de France, sits 16 seconds ahead of Gallopin in the overall standings.
The 142 riders took off at 11:16 under a beautiful sky with temperatures around 25degC for the longest stage of the event a 190km ride all the way to Wadi Dayqah Dam. After just a kilometre, three men managed to breakaway: Delle Stelle (BAR), Jang (CSS) and Hatanaka (JPN). They were soon joined by the holder of the most aggressive rider jersey, Bobbie Traksel (CSS), already in breakaways on the first two days. Their lead grew from 1' at km 5 to a maximum 9'10 at the first intermediate sprint (km 37) won by Traksel ahead of Delle Stelle and Jang.
Sheikh Salem bin Abdullah Buraiki member of the Shura Council, opened the third stage stating that "the Tour of Oman 2013 a very important event that has been embraced by the Sultanate for the fourth time. This is proof of the success in previous editions and that the diversity of Oman terrain fits with the requirements of the cyclists." In conclusion he wished happiness success for all that this event should be repeated in the coming years.
From then on, Peter Sagan (CAN) took on the chase. After covering 44.6km during the first hour of racing, the gap narrowed down to 7'30 at 50km.
Going up the first climb of the day, at Boucher Alamrat, Delle Stelle took off on his own. The Italian reached the top with a 1'10 lead over Traksel, Jang and Hatanaka, and 2'25 over the pack. On the descent Traksel stopped his effort and was caught by the pack at km 100. Shortly later, Delle Stelle was again joined by his former companions as three men led the stage. At km 109, the leading trio could enjoy a 4'10 advantage. The second bonus sprint (at km 143.5) was claimed by Delle Stelle ahead of Jang and Hatanaka. Shortly after, Jang was forced to stop with cramps. The Korean was eventually caught by the pack at km 149, leaving two men in the lead. After enjoying a 1'55 lead at km 150, Delle Stelle was the first to be caught by the pack at kilometre 172. It was then Hatanaka's turn to be gobbled up by the hungry peloton at km 172.
The pack remained bunched for the final showdown. With just 7 kms to go, Lancaster (OGE) tried his luck but after enjoying an 8" lead was caught back by a pack led by teams SKY and Cannondale. Heading up to the finish on the last 800m, Sagan took off. He hung on to the lead all the way to the line, beating Van Avermaet (BMC), Gallopin (RLT) and Contador (TST) by one second.
Sagan keeps his overall leader's Red Jersey with a 16 secs lead over Gallopin and 26 secs over Van Avermaet as he stormed across the finish line at the imposing backdrop of the Wadi Dayqah dam, one of the largest water projects in the Sultanate. He also remains the best young rider and now also leads the points' classification. Traksel keeps the Most Aggressive rider's jersey.
The finale took place at Wadi Dayqah dam, with the cyclists being welcomed by dancers bespoke to the region of Qurayyat.
Said Juma Al Jazali, member of the Shura Council, the guest of honour for stage three said at the finish that "we are delighted that the Tour of Oman has again visited Wadi Dayqah Dam and we hope that the race continues to come here as the wadi is not only a place of majestic beauty but of importance to Oman, being one of the largest water projects in the Sultanate. The Tour is a fantastic show case of our country and we hope all the cyclists and team members are enjoying Omani hospitality.
Claire Willcox "I have lived here for three years so this was a good excuse to come and see this amazing place as well as our sporting heroes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. We were so impressed by the finish that we have already changed our plans so that we can go to the Jebel Akhdar tomorrow and to the Matrah Corniche to watch the finale on Saturday. "
Mohammed Al Said, aged 9 was one of the children watching at the finish line. The race has obviously provided huge inspiration for him. "I am so happy to have been able to be able to see this. I can't wait to get on my own bike as soon as I get home now." Meanwhile, a very happy Peter Sagan stated with a beaming smile that it was "Nice to take a second win in this beautiful country."
Tomorrow`s stage will start at Al Saltiyah in Samail for the hotly anticipated climb up Jabal Al Akdhar. With 5.8 km at an average gradient of 10.3 per cent, this will be the ultimate endurance test of the race.