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Oman, stage 4: Cort wins; Van Avermaet keeps lead

MUSCAT, Oman (AFP) — Danish sprinter Magnus Cort Nielsen won stage 4 of the Tour of Oman on Friday as Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) retained the overall lead.

“I was OK during the whole stage, however, with one kilometer to the top of the final climb I had a tough moment because there were some attacks in front of the group and our riders tried to control these attacks,” Astana’s Cort said.

Stage 3, top 10

1. Magnus Cort (Astana), in 2:57:36
2. Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Meridia), s.t.
3. Alberto Bettiol (BMC Racing), s.t.
4. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), s.t.
5. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), s.t.
6. Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin), s.t.
7. Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport), s.t.
8. Merhawi Ghebremedhin (Dimension Data), s.t.
9. Odd Eiking (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), s.t.
10. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), s.t.

Top-10 overall

1. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), in 15:54:20
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), at :09
3. Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin), at :13
4. Gorka Insausti (Bahrain-Merida), at :16
5. Miguel Moreno (Astana), at :24
6. Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors), at :25
7. Odd Eiking (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), s.t.
8. Jesus Lopez (Cofidis), s.t.
9. Daniel Garcia (Cofidis), s.t.
10. Merhawi Ghebremedhin (Dimension Data), at :33

Coming into the final kilometer, Quick-Step’s Niki Terpstra was off the front.

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA’s Alex Aranburu tried to bridge up to the Dutch leader. this only served to whip up the pace in the reduced peloton.

Astana put Alexey Lutsenko on the front and with about 500 meters remaining, the Spaniard and Terpstra had been caught.

Cort, 25, sprinted clear with about 200 meters remaining, winning with room to spare ahead of Italians Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) and Alberto Bettiol (BMC Racing), who were second and third, respectively.

The 117.5-kilometer stage from the northeastern coastal village of Yiti to the capital Muscat lasted just under three hours.

Belgian Van Avermaet, who won Thursday’s stage 3, leads by nine seconds from Cort’s Kazakh teammate Lutsenko.

“I want to thank all team for a great support today, especially Alexey Lutsenko, who did an amazing job in the last kilometer,” said Cort. “He was so strong, pulling in front, keeping the second group far behind and leading me out for the sprint.”

Stage 5 on Saturday involves a rugged 152km route, involving a final dramatic climb to the top of Jabal al-Akhdhar (Green Mountain).

Cort’s Colombian teammate Miguel Ángel López hopes to be a factor in the race’s decisive penultimate stage. “My legs were OK and after four stages I am where I wanted to be,” he said. “I am happy for Magnus and this nice victory. Also, it is a pleasant bonus to get the white jersey [best young rider].”

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