AL BUSTAN, Oman (VN) — Bob Jungels not only won the opening Tour of Oman stage on Tuesday in a solo uphill effort, but he also impressed his new Etixx – Quick-Step teammates with his determination.
A slight breeze blew inland from the Arabian Sea and cooled the warm Sultan state Tuesday afternoon when the Luxembourg rider made his move. He powered away with a 55-tooth chainring on the downhill and held his advantage on the slight uphill kick on the coast south of Muscat. He left behind an A-list group that included Romain Bardet of Ag2r La Mondiale, Tom Dumoulin of Giant – Alpecin, and Vincenzo Nibali of Astana. For comparison purposes, Trek – Segafredo’s classics star Fabian Cancellara won last year on the same finish.
“I saw this finish last week online and then we previewed it [Monday],” the 23-year-old Jungels told VeloNews. “I knew it was for me with its fast finish, which I could use my time trial skills to stay clear. It’s nice to confirm to the team that they didn’t sign me for nothing.”
Jungels’ talent has shown for some time. He won the worlds time trial title as a junior, Paris–Roubaix espoirs, and the Flèche du Sud, the latter which counts Andy Schleck, Geraint Thomas, and Bradley Wiggins as former winners. He rode for the Trek WorldTour team franchise for three years starting in 2013, and last year he finished sixth in the Tour de Suisse and won the Etoile de Bessèges.
“Who wouldn’t want him in the team, he’s a young rider and is talented,” Etixx sport director Rik Van Slycke said. “He’s growing year by year. If you have the opportunity to have a guy in a team like him, and you can pay for him, then there’s no doubt. You just don’t ask if Bob is available. You sign him.”
Jungels has impressed his teammates already in training camps and in his first race of 2016, the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, in which he finished 12th.
“He’s a real gentleman, but he knows what he wants, which is really important,” said six-day star and Etixx classics domestique Iljo Keisse. “What he does in training camps and in testing, he’s extremely strong. When he has something in his head and he finishes it off like that, it’s impressive.”
Said Dan Martin, who joined Etixx with Jungels for this season and who also formed the winning move of 16 riders on Tuesday: “Everyone was just cross-eyed. I have respect for the guy. He’s so young, but determined. This morning, he said, ‘I want to do it this way,’ and he did it.”
After three years with Trek, Jungels could pass from a promising cyclist to a star leader with his new Belgian team. Once back in Europe, Etixx will allow him space to spread his wings in Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Ardennes classics. In the Ardennes — Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – he will lead with Julian Alaphilippe and Martin. Martin, who won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013, said the two compliment each other well.
“He’s a newcomer, but he’s winning,” Martin added. “Just look at him on the bike, you can see he has class.”