Oman: Lutsenko snags stage 3 win, GC lead

The Astana rider wins his second straight stage as he attempts to successfully defend his 2018 title.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko executed a repeat performance in Oman on Monday, winning his second consecutive stage on the third day of the Tour of Oman.

Lutsenko, the reigning overall champion of the race, followed his stage 2 victory on Sunday with another one in stage 3, a 192-kilometer route from Shati Al Qurum to Qurayyat. His winning move came with 500 meters left on the 2.8km finishing climb, as he broke away from a small group and won by a second over Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team).

Lutsenko leads the same two riders in the general classification, as he holds an 18-second edge over Herrada and a 20-second lead over Van Avermaet.

“Today I really have to thank my teammates for all their hard work, all the time they kept me out of trouble during the echelons, and they put me in the perfect position at the start of the final climb,” said Lutsenko, referencing the challenging racing conditions caused by strong winds off the Gulf of Oman that fractured the peloton.

“The final 50km turned out to be hard and hectic, but I’m thrilled I managed to win another time. … Of course, I hope I can win the overall race again, but there are still many hard days to come.”

The win was the eighth in eight days for Astana, which also registered victories at the recent Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Tour La Provence, and Tour Colombia.

Van Avermaet said the finishing climb, which averaged 6.5 percent, was a good early-season test.

“I could not win today but I think with this finish, and you see how Lutsenko is riding at the moment, it’s a good third place,” he said. “It is always a good effort of five minutes [on the final climb] and we always have high power output on these climbs but for me, the most important thing is that the team is riding really well together. In the echelons, we were there with four guys in the first group and I think this is an indication that everyone has good form.”

The Tour of Oman, which will be followed by the UAE Tour in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, resumes Tuesday with the 131km stage 4 from Yiti (Al Sifah) to the Oman Convention & Exhibition Center.