Jimmy Casper wins the first stage in Oman. Photo: Graham Watson.

Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) won the first stage of the inaugural Tour of Oman on Sunday.

The Frenchman took the bunch sprint at the end of the 61km circuit race on the Muscat Corniche ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) and Kenny De Haes (Omega Pharma-Lotto). He will wear the red leader’s jersey in Monday’s Stage 2, a 148.5km leg from Nizwa to Samail.

After a neutral lap on the 4km circuit a three-man break formed — Wilfried Cretskens (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Joaquin Novoa Menedez (Cervélo TestTeam) and Cédric Coutouly (Saur-Sojasun ). Three laps later they were joined by Martin Reimer (Cervélo), Peter Wrolich (Milram) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) with the peloton some 40 seconds in arrears.

Ballan took the first intermediate sprint at 23km and the leaders stayed clear until the ninth lap. A few kilometers after the catch, four riders took off: Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia), Robert Hunter (Garmin-Transitions), Nikita Eskov (Katuska) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil).

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Pinotti picked off the second intermediate sprint at 42km, but the pack was closing in, and the break was sucked back in with just over two laps to go as the sprinters’ teams began setting up their trains.

In the finale, rocketing up the left side of the road, Casper flew to the line to claim the first leader’s jersey of the inaugural event.

Casper also picked up the green jersey for the points classification while Boasson Hagen claimed the white jersey for best young rider.