Tour of Oman (st. 2)
Valverde takes 2nd behind Cancellara (TFR) into top-level field sprint on Tour of Oman stage two, following the Spaniard's attack through the decisive climb of Al Jissah
Already close to his second victory of the season 12 days ago in the hardest finish of the Dubai Tour, where only John Degenkolb (TGA) outsprinted Alejandro Valverde, the Spaniard took an important step ahead in his Tour of Oman GC aspirations by finishing 2nd at Al Bustan's finish, end of the 195km starting at Al Hazm. The Movistar Team's leader was beaten by Fabian Cancellara (TFR) in a selected field's sprint after the day's two climbs, Al Hamriyah and Al Jissah, saw the lads directed by Chente García Acosta put on a big effort.
The telephone squad worked hard during the last hundred kilometers to control the day's early break and later pushed strong to eliminate some of their threats and lead Valverde out, the Murcian jumping away in search for the front into the last ascent. The subsequent regrouping left just over ten riders ahead, coming into a sprint where Alejandro beat fast riders like Van Avermaet (BMC, 3rd), Pozzato (LAM, 4th) or Sagan (TCS, 5th), yet losing out on the highest step of the podium.
Valverde is now 2nd overall, four seconds in arrears of Cancellara, and puts 6" on his main GC rivals before Friday's decisive, steep hilltop finish in the Green Mountain. Before that, sprinters will come to the fore again on Thursday, with 159km around Al Mussanah offering no big difficulties.
Valverde se sitúa 2º en la general, a 4" de Cancellara, y endosa 6" a sus más inmediatos rivales antes del trascendental final en alto de la Green Mountain, el viernes. Antes, mañana jueves, tercera fracción con probable desenlace al sprint alrededor de Al Mussanah (159 km).
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “It's quite an important step, and though I came really close to winning again, the group of rivals for the overall has got reduced, I took those bonus seconds and, looking at the rivals I had into the sprint, you've got to stay content with such a result. Tinkoff-Saxo was pushing with five riders in search for the day's break, we cooperated with them a little bit in the beginning and at the finale, after the first climb, we took command before the foot of the last climb. There were four of five riders going away and I jumped across with Van Garderen, but many others came behind and it all came down to a sprint.
"Feelings during these first two stages in Oman have been a little strange; I wouldn't say they were bad, because you can't say you're bad when you're up front, but it's true that strong heat, the four days of stop between Qatar and this race… I don't feel perfectly well. We'll see what happens on Friday – it will be a completely different finish and the way to tackle it will not be the same, either.”