Nizwa to Samail in the Sultanate of Omani. Okay, maybe it doesn’t have the automatic sense of drama and history as Milan to San Remo. Give it a hundred years.
After watching his Liquigas teammate Francesco Chicchi rack up two wins last week in the Tour of Qatar (sometimes called the Belgium of the dunes), Daniele Bennati marked the 148k stage as podium possible.
Despite the usually dead-on prognostication by revered Muslin cycling commentator Adbul Al Salaam — who picked Tyler Farrar — the Italian sprinter beat the Garmin rider and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Pro Cycling Team). It was first win since the Giro di Sardegna last February.
“I’ve waited too long for this win. I’ve had so many problems that I’ve decided to stop looking back. Now I just hope to look to the future,” said Bennati.
“The whole team helped me during the stage and then Daniel [Oss] and Francesco [Chicchi] gave me a great lead out. Chicchi was amazing. I went with about 300 metres to go as the bunch hesitated. It was a long way out but I’ve got a long sprint when I’m fit and healthy.”
Today’s bold escape in the Middle East included Trek-Livestrong’s Ben Dowsett, Kristof Vandewalle (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Ben Gastauer (Ag2r) and Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team). The charging horde from Sky, Garmin, Saxo bank and Liquigas killed their chances 11 kilometers from the finish line.
Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) had the novel idea of sprinting for the line one lap before the finish. His thrill of victory quickly turned to the shame of embarassment when he learned of his mistake. Hard to consult the race Bible when it’s the Koran. He was later taken in for questioning by camel-mounted officers of the Royal Oman Police.
Sadly, Tyler Farrar seems back to his second-place ways this season after finishing 2009 with a number of sprint wins. “My form is coming around and so it’s got to happen soon,” said Farrar.
Our wizened expert Abdul El Salaam was at no loss to explain Farrar’s second place.: “his kick is like a camel — strong but not the beauty of a stallion.” The camel gets another chance tomorrow in Qurayyat.