Astana takes over Oman

Two for Oman

Not the entire country of Oman, just the part where you’ll find the Green Mountain, the queen stage of the Tour of Oman.

Miguel Angel Lopez won the stage and Alexey Lutsenko took control of the overall in a one-two punch that knocked everyone else out of the race. Astana team boss Alexander Vinokourov is pouring the champagne.

There were no fireworks on display or vicious attacks on the 5.7 kilometer climb that averages 10% in grade. Astana simply ramped up the pace as Lutsenko and Lopez dropped the peloton, the front group, the chasers, everyone. The power was steady, relentless and soon it was the two Astana riders steadily pulling away.

Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) hung around for a while but finally exploded. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) managed third place, 12 seconds back. Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) fought to the death and finished fifth with Pete Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) rolling in sixth. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) remained tranquillo, no pedals turned in anger, and eased in 1:32 down. Shark missing in Oman.

Lutsenko’s post-stage quotes seemed to match the low-key bludgeoning. “I am really happy because everything went okay but the main thing is that the team was really strong,” said Lutsenko. “We controlled the race from the start and the guys worked really hard.” Plan went okay, team was strong, bye-bye everyone.

On a day without constant attacks and counter attacks, Astana ruled the road and laid down the law. “We still have three riders in front with two kilometres to go. It was also our plan to win the stage. In the last section I was alone with Miguel Angel Lopez and we did our best to get some time from our rivals and take this stage,” said Lutsenko, who really needs to work on jazzing up his race commentary.

Even as Lutsenko and Lopez headed toward the finish line, there was a lack of dramatics over who would take the stage honors. “Everybody was really honest. I worked quite a lot in the last kilometres and Miguel was stronger in the climb and especially in the final, he pulled quite a lot,” said Lutsenko. “He was just in front and we didn’t really decide, it was automatic. Miguel took the victory and I just followed his wheel in the last kilometer.”

The duo crushed everyone and enjoyed the feeling. “Honestly, it was a really nice moment when we went with three kilometres to go and we had nobody behind us, only Astana. This was the nicest moment. I am really happy and we have our general manager here and it was a big honor to win with him at the finish line. The win was really good and the win gives us lots of motivation for the next races. This is an amazing feeling.”

Astana took over the Tour of Oman and Vinokourov is shopping for a pale blue sheik’s robe.


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