Bahrain-Merida’s Sonny Colbrelli did not hesitate in giving thanks to CCC rival Greg van Avermaet (BEL) following the Italian sprinter’s Stage 4 victory at the 10th Tour of Oman on Tuesday. According to Colbrelli, the final was about to go pear-shaped with the barrier quickly approaching, but the Olympic champion heeded Colbrelli’s call and allowed the 28-year-old room to properly contest for the victory — even at the risk of his own success.
“I have to thank Greg van Avermaet, because he didn't close me into the barriers,” explained Colbrelli. “He was a gentleman. I told him, ‘I’m coming from the right side, right side!’ It was perfect, so thanks to Greg.”
The win gives Colbrelli his first win of the season, as well as an added confidence boost heading into the next phase of his season, which includes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussells-Kuurne, Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo.
“I’m happy because today was the first time here I’ve had good sensation, which is good for morale here and Milan-San Remo,” admitted the 2017 Paris-Nice stage winner. “I can improve a bit more. I want to be in top condition for Milan-San Remo and beyond.”
Van Avermaet finished second on the day, a 131-kilometre effort from Yiti (Al Sifah) to the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in Muscat, but was not as thrilled with the outcome despite his praises being sung by Colbrelli.
“Normally, a sprinter closes in a guy who comes from the right,” the Classics specialist told Cyclingnews.
Colbrelli was out of the wind. I started the sprint quite early, and if I really go to the right, maybe he has to come around and it’s harder for him to come over, and maybe it’s a different story. I left too much of a gap open, I think. It’s just a bit sad, because if I hadn’t have done that it would’ve been better, but it is how it is.
Frenchman Clément Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale) finished third, with ‘best young rider’ Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data) of South Africa in fourth.
Opening stage winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) finished fifth and regained the green points jersey from last year’s tour winner and current race leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) in the process. Meanwhile, Lutsenko, who won the previous two stages to wrest the red leader’s jersey from the Norwegian remains atop the general classification with the queen stage looming.
The 26-year-old Kazakh holds a 14-second advantage over van Avermaet as the race resumes on Wednesday with a 152km fifth stage featuring a summit finish atop Green Mountain, a 5.7km climb which stands 1,235m at the finish line and features a gradient of 10.5 percent.
For full stage and race results, click here.
Aaron S Lee @aaronshanelee