Tour of Oman, stage 3: Van Avermaet wins, snags overall lead

The 2016 Olympic champion rode to victory in the third stage of the Tour of Oman and will wear the red leader's jersey on Friday.

MUSCAT, Oman (AFP) — Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won stage 3 of the Tour of Oman Thursday, edging Portugal’s Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) in the final sprint.

The stage was tailor-made for the Belgian and other riders who excel in the one-day classics. The 179.5-kilometer route featured three climbs from the western outskirts of Muscat to the Wadi Dayqah Dam.

“I think the team did a perfect job. We came at the right moment on the descent with 3km to go, and they put me in a perfect position so I could wait for the perfect moment,” Van Avermaet said. “It was at the hardest point of the climb that I went full gas, and I just hoped that no one could follow and that’s what happened, so I was really happy that I could cross the line first.”

Van Avermaet secured the top spot in the overall standings. Lutsenko is second at 11 seconds back and Nathan Haas (Katusha) is 13 seconds behind in third.

“I am not expecting to win the Tour of Oman, but I am in the red jersey now so tomorrow I will try to defend it,” Van Avermaet added. “I am pretty happy with my condition for the classics, but overall, for the general classification, I think Green Mountain is too hard for me. It will be one for the climbers, and I think they can maybe take two minutes on me on a climb like this.”

The fourth stage on Friday is a rigorous 117.5km route with three climbs.