A ferocious attack in the final metres up the ascent of Qurayyat 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 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 (3rd in 2019, a year that saw him finish 2nd in Qurayyat), Herrada says he wants to keep the red jersey all the way to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), the final summit of this 12th edition, on Wednesday.
As soon as the peloton leave the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, they head to the infamous climb of Al Jabal Street (3.5km at 9.2%), where riders unleash a flurry of attacks. Ivan Cobo (Equipo Kern Pharma) is the fiercest on the uphill but the peloton don’t give him much room to operate. Alone at the front, he’s caught at the bottom of the downhill.
UAE and Astana control the day
Attacks keep flying on the flat. Fredrik Dversnes (Uno-X) jumps ahead of the bunch at km 15. He’s quickly joined at the front by Luca Van Boven (Bingoal WB) but Dvernes dominates the intermediate sprint of Al Amrat (km 20.1).
The two leaders are joined by four more attackers after 25km: Ivan Cobo, back on the move, Angel Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Kosuke Takeyama (JCL Team Ukyo) and the leader of the most aggressive rider classification, Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon), wearing the golden jersey after his breakaway on day 1.
The gap is up to 4’ but UAE Team Emirates and Astana Qazaqstan react at the front of the bunch. Mark Cavendish participates in the chase for the kazakh team and the gap sits between 2 and 3 minutes for most of the stage.
Cobo shows again his climbing skills as the attackers face the climb of Qurayyat (2.6km at 7%) for the first time, 52km before the uphill finish. Meijers can’t keep up, he drops back to the bunch.
The peloton up the ante after the summit. As the gap drops down to 1 minute, Cobo, Dvernes and Takeyama also drop back to the bunch. Van Boven and Fuentes remain at the front inside the last 30km.
Soudal Quick-Step move to the front of the bunch and put the hammer down with 15km to go. The two attackers remaining at the front are brought in 7km away from the finish, just ahead of the final ascent.
UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Arkéa-Samsic set a strong pace for their leaders. But nobody can contain Jesus Herrada’s acceleration in the final 200m. Maxim Van Gils and Diego Ulissi are the closest to the Spaniard. – Tour of Oman
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