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Matteo Jorgenson fends off attacks to defend GC at Tour of Oman: ‘Everybody was coming after us’

The US rider protects five-second lead ahead of the final showdown on Jabal Al Akhdhar.

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YITTI HILLS, Oman (VN) — Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) described his first day in a leader’s jersey as “perfect” after fending off challenges from his rivals to stay in pole position at the Tour of Oman.

After claiming his first pro win Monday, Jorgenson went into stage 4 with a five-second lead over his nearest challenger Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step), and a further nine seconds over Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) in third.

The U.S. rider held his nerve during an aggressive finale to maintain his overall advantage going into the toughest test of the race Wednesday at the final stage to Jabal Al Akhdhar.

“I won’t lie, it was a little stressful. I started the day really calm but it took a long day for the breakaway to go and everybody was coming after us,” Jorgenson said. “But once we got the situation sorted, we did it perfectly, we got a small break, made it an easy day, and let them get the time bonuses and then let the teams who wanted the win pull at the end.

“In the end, it ended up being perfect but there were some stressful moments in the beginning.”

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Perhaps Jorgenson’s sternest test as a debut race leader was the series of attacks that came over the penultimate climb of the day, Al Jissah.

Former two-time winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan) launched the biggest move of all, shortly before the summit of the climb.

Lutsenko got a small gap before Jorgenson was finally able to reel him in, along with two others. It was a big effort from the 23-year-old, but it may have been key as Lutsenko will be one of his toughest competitors during Wednesday’s last stage.

“Oh my God, he really went for it! I probably set all sorts of records on that climb. I had lactate in all parts of my body but once we brought him back and got things sorted and I had my teammates back with me it became really easy at the end,” he said.

“He surprised me a little bit. I didn’t know what his plan was when he attacked. If he would have gone solo, I don’t know. It was a long way to the finish. I covered him just in case and it cost me a little bit to cover it but I’m glad that I did and we ended up waiting for my teammates to come back and it was perfect.”

Jorgenson still holds his small five-second advantage in the overall classification.

Thanks to bonus seconds, stage 4 winner Diego Ulissi has moved into second overall — also at five seconds — but he will likely slip back down the standings during the climb of Jabal Al Akhdhar.

Instead, it is the likes of Vansevenant, Bouchard, Lutsenko, Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), and Cian Uijtdebroeks that will pose the biggest threat.

After a successful week already in Oman, Jorgenson is going into the last day fully intent on taking the leader’s red jersey for good.

“That’s definitely the dream. I think we can do it. I think today went perfect and tomorrow will just be about making it to the climb as fresh as I can and hoping to do the performance of my life,” he said.

“[The climb] is just super steep. It’s going to be hot, for sure, like every day. It’s just a watts per kilo test there’s nothing really more to it. I don’t even think there will be tactics because there’s no drafting. It will just be whoever has the best legs will win the race.”

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