Jesus Herrada Powers to Victory after Tough Second Stage of Tour of Oman 2023

Muscat: A ferocious attack in the final metres on the ascent to Quriyat got Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) the prizes he was aiming for: the win in stage 2 of the Tour of Oman 2023 and the overall lead.

The 32-year-old Spanish puncheur made the most of his skills and his knowledge of this specific terrain to pounce at the perfect moment and get the best of Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).

Already a podium finisher in the Tour of Oman (third in 2019, a year that saw him finish 2nd in Quriyat), Herrada said he wants to keep the red jersey all the way to Jabal Al Akhdhar the final summit of this 12th edition, on Wednesday.

Herrada said, “It was a great victory for me and for the team. It was a very hard stage and we are very happy. I know this final part of the race from two years ago, and we managed to win this time. We go day by day and the team are doing well. We will try to secure more victories throughout the week.”

Stage 2 proved a tough test of endurance for the riders, especially the sprint specialists who struggled in the heat. Starting from Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, the 174km stage took the pack through Al Amerat and Al Filaij to the foothills of the Al Hajar Mountains before finishing in Quriyat.

Herrada also claimed best Individual Time and Points to go with his win, while 23-year-old Belgian rider Maxim Van Gils earned the ‘Best Young Rider’ award for Stage 2 after his impressive second place finish. Dutchman Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team) won his second consecutive ‘Most Active Rider’ award.

Maxim Van Gils added, “This was a very nice stage to ride; a hard start and you can feel it in the legs, especially with the wind today. I did really well today, finished second, but was not quite strong enough to push for first. Earning the Best Young Rider award is very good, and tomorrow I will aim for first. We were fighting for position in the last 20km, and on the climb where you really have to spin. Every day, the riders become more tired, but we have to go faster, so I have to prepare for tomorrow’s race and do my best.”

Stage 3 on Monday, 13 February is set further inland, beginning at Al Hamra in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah and passing through Birkat Al Mouz towards Samail and the finishing line at Al Khobar. A total of 151.8km.

Franck Perque, Director of Cycling with Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organisers of the Tour of Oman 2023, said, “The riders are delighted to come here because it is the beginning of the season. It is a perfect place to start, in terms of weather, and the route offers sprints on perfect roads, small climbs and tougher climbs like Jabal Al Akhdar. It is very important for the riders, and we can design the route to include these challenges. This also means the winner of the stages can change every day.”

The Tour of Oman 2023 is organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, Muscat Municipality and the Oman Cycling Association. – ONA

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