Sagan Strikes Back, Wins Stage 4 of Tour of Oman 2014
Coming out of the dark, Team Cannondale's Peter Sagan proved he is still capable of winning sprints in professional bike races when he fought his way to victory in stage 4 of this year's Tour of Oman.
Part of a large group, which included the best riders of the Tour of Oman peloton, Sagan managed to hang on to the front group as the riders struggled to overcome the challenges of the Bousher Alamrat climb four times. The Slovakian was then part of a decisive move in the last descent together with Team Astana's Vincenzo Nibali and Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Rigoberto Uran. Managing to stay clear of the hungry main peloton, Sagan catapulted himself to his first success in this year's Tour of Oman when he beat Uran and Nibali in a sprint to the line. Sagan also took the overall race lead from previous leader André Greipel of Germany and Lotto-Belisol.
"I haven't felt the pressure to win this season, but of course I like to be first," Sagan told RoadCycling.com after being celebrated on the podium. "I could feel my form getting better, and getting a win was only a matter of time. Yesterday, I tried winning twice. I attacked in the finale and sprinted on the finish line. André Greipel has been a fast competitor so far, but for me this was a signal that it was my moment to shine."
Wadi Al Abiyad welcomed the riders of Tour of Oman in style with a beautiful scenery that set the scene for what promised to be a very eventful stage. The 142 riders of the Tour of Oman took off at 11:28 for a 173 kilometer stage 4, which would take the riders all the way to the Ministry of Housing with an extremely demanding last part that would take the pack up the Bousher Alamrat climb four times.
The hostilities started early when, following a very fast start, Agnoli, Westra and Fischer were the first to break away at kilometer 9, but the peloton never let the riders built a lasting lead, so they were caught at kilometer 15. Moments later four other riders managed to take off. Team Astana's Huffman, Yearoslav Popovych of Trek Factory Racing, Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing Team, and Jelle Wallays of Top Sport Vlaanderen. Their lead expanded rapidly and at the first intermediate sprint (kilometer 37), which was won by Wallays ahead of Van Avermaet and Popovych, the leading four had a 7 minute and 25 seconds advantage over the main pack. That gap reached a maximum of 8 minutes at kilometer 51.
The pack, led by Lotto-Belisol, Tinkoff-Saxo, Team BMC Racing and Omega Pharma-QuickStep then started chasing and just before taking on the first of four climbs up Bousher Alamrat, the leaders saw their advantage drop to 5 minutes and 50 seconds. At the top of the first climb, which Wallays reached first ahead of Van Avermaet and Popovych, the group of favorites remained 3 minutes and 50 seconds ahead. Meanwhile heavy strongmen race leader André Greipel and best young rider Leigh Howard were struggling behind.
The second climb also featured a sprint (kilometer 131) that was again won by Wallays ahead of Van Avermaet and Huffman while the pack by then was only 2 minutes and 25