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Fausto Masnada has been trying to win in ‘the wolfpack’ colors for more than a year. Now after putting his first run with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl on the board at the Tour of Oman on Sunday he’s searching for more.
Masnada celebrated a solo victory on stage four into Muscat, profiting from an exemplary display of teamwork to also take the red leader’s jersey, which he has zero intention of surrendering with one final but difficult test for the climbers remaining.
The Italian has shown promise since signing with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl midway through 2020, finishing ninth overall at the Giro d’Italia that year, but his relief confirming that promise with a win was clear to see after he came charging across the finish line outside the marble-laden Royal Opera House.
Masnada finished one minute and seven seconds ahead of ‘MVP’ teammate Mauro Schmid, who won a small group sprint for second, with Kevin Vauquelin (Arkéa-Samsic) third.
Also read: Masnada punches into GC lead at Oman
“Finally, it’s the first victory with ‘the wolfpack,’” Masnada said.
“It’s more than one year that I try to win a stage, a race with this team. I’m really happy to get the victory here and today we did a perfect job. The team works very well.”
What a way to take your first victory for the Wolfpack 💥 pic.twitter.com/tVopW1XdFE
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) February 13, 2022
Masnada entered the tour as a title favorite and team leader, next to sprinter Mark Cavendish, who is still in the green jersey, but was not necessarily “Plan A” on Sunday.
Schmid was up the road and at the front of proceedings for much of the explosive stage that started outside a marina resort in Al Sifah.
“The plan was at the beginning of the race we put one rider in the breakaway and Mauro make the good movement,” Masnada said.
Numerous climbs punctuated the 119.5km trek, which played out in blistering heat, and with attacks, splits and chase groups forming and reforming the team communicated a lot.
“The sport director [did] an amazing job. I followed what they said to do. Mauro took the opportunity to try to win the stage, and the final climb, when the guys of Arkéa [Samsic] drop him, the team allowed me the possibility to try to move. I caught him and he helped me until the top of climb and then the last descent I tried to attack,” Masnada said.
“Mauro this day was so important for my victory. I think he made 90 percent of my victory.”
Masnada attacked with about 12km remaining, striving to put as much time into the GC rivals he left trailing behind him. He was seemingly unaware of a rolling road closure in bustling Muscat that cut it somewhat fine, with general traffic still on the course and crossing the finish line with 15km of the race remaining.
“I’m satisfied with today and I reach a goal, I reach a dream to win with this jersey, so looking forward to the next one,” he said.
“Now I’m the leader of this race, so of course we fight to try to win the jersey. Tomorrow is a hard stage, the ‘queen stage’ of this race, I don’t know the final climb because it’s the first time I race this race, but I know that it’s a hard climb, the famous Green Mountain, but we’re a strong team and we will fight until the end to try to wear this jersey.”