Andre Greipel wins in Al Wadi Al Kabir. Say that fast three times as a tongue twister. The German continues to scorch across the desert in the Big O, the Tour of Oman. Today only previous stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Connondale) could mount a challenge.
Already the story out of the Middle East is getting very Italian. Greipel has been on fire since day one in the new season, from the Tour Down Under to Oman. Now the chorus is singing and it has the German as the front runner for Milan San Remo in one month.
“It’s in March,” Greipel said post race. “It is in March. Of course I want to try to be good but there is one month to go and a couple of races to do.” Sure, no question but his results compared to Mark Cavendish (94th) and Tyler Farrar (104th) and Matthew Goss (95th) look pretty stellar.
No word so far on what happened to Cavendish today although he’s not much on climbs and today’s stage featured a number of difficulties: Bousher Alamrat and Al Hamriya (15% grade) and Al Jissah and Al Jolson. Just kidding about Jolson — the American singer and dancer has been dead for a while and buried in Culver City, California.
Greipel had no problem with the climbs and even when he was dropped on the circuit around town he still fought his way back to the front with help from teammates Adam Hansen and Marcel Sieberg.
“It didn’t look like I was dropping out [on the climb], I was dropped,” Greipel confirmed after the finish. “Adam Hansen and Sieberg were waiting for me, and they kept talking to me, saying that I could do it. Adam Hansen brought me back to the front group, and then they pulled the breakaway back and I just tried to find my position for the sprint.”
Greipel made the win look effortless, with Sagan in second and two young French speedsters Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) taking third and fourth.
Things weren’t so rosy in Oman, the Belgium of the Middle East, for the Taiwanese trade team RTS Racing Team. More than half the team — four riders — didn’t even finish the stage. No chapeaux for those guys. Sergey Kudentsov, Wang Chung Huang, Chin-Lung Huang and Wei Kei Chang failed miserably. Guys, you gotta Huang tough!
Stay tuned for more riveting action from the Big O — it’s Belgium with sunshine!