Tour of Oman – Lutsenko on the verge of defending title

Energy Wednesday 20/February/2019 18:30 PM
By: Times News Service
Tour of Oman – Lutsenko on the verge of defending title

Muscat: Alexey Lutsenko of Team Astana took his fifth stage win in four days on Wednesday with another display of power on the Green Mountain of Jabal Akhdar.
The Kazakh champ overcame the last early attacker, Fabien Grellier (Direct Énergie), in the final 200 metres to establish his dominance while Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) came third. Ahead of the final stage to the Mutrah Corniche, Alexey Lutsenko is set for his second overall victory on the Tour of Oman.
A pack of 119 riders started Stage 5 without Huub Duijn (Roompot-Charles). With the Green Mountain waiting for them, the attackers were inspired and it took seven kilometres for six riders to go clear: Julien Duval (AG2r-La Mondiale), Romain Cardis and Fabien Grellier (Direct Énergie), Stijn Steels (Roompot-Charles), Julien Mortier (Wallonie Bruxelles) and Kenneth van Rooy (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) covered 44 km in the first hour on windy roads to open a five-minute gap to the peloton led by Alexey Lutsenko’s Astana.
The leading group pushed its advantage to about halfway through the stage. Domenico Pozzaovivo’s Bahrain-Merida then set the pace across the group, and the attackers worked well together and got to the bottom of the final climb up the Green Mountain (5.7km, 10.5%) with a lead of 3’20”.
Fabien Grellier went solo early in the climb, and the pack was quickly reduced to a handful of climbers, as Domenico Pozzovivo was the only one able to follow Alexey Lutsenko when competition for the red jersey accelerated with 2km to go.
The duo moved closer to Grellier: 30 inches for the final kilometre and 15 inches with 500m to go, until Alexey Lutsenko makes his key move inside the last 200 metres. The Kazakh star now only needs to confirm his absolute triumph on Thursday.
Lutsenko has been consistent throughout the Tour of Oman, having previously doubled up with a second stage victory in a row, after a spectacular day of racing on the way to Quriyat at the end of stage three, which meant he led the stage classification at that time. On day four, Sonny Colbrelli of team Bahrain-Merida sprinted to victory on Tuesday after a hard-fought stage 4 of the Tour of Oman.
The Italian champ snatched his first win of the season ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Pro Team) and Clément Venturini (AG2R-La Mondiale) after the early attackers were caught by a reduced bunch inside the final kilometre - a perfect boost for him ahead of the Classics.
The results mean that Alexey Lutsenko once again has his hands on both the red jersey, which is given to the rider with the best individual time, as well as the green jersey, which is held by the cyclist with the best general points tally. However the mantle of the white jersey (given to the best young rider) now rests with Elie Gesbert of Team Arkea – Samsic, but the yellow jersey, which is awarded to the most aggressive rider, is still with Preben van Hecke of Sport Vlaanderen Baloise.
The final stage of the Tour of Oman begins at Al Mouj Muscat in Seeb, and ends at the Muttrah Corniche, a total distance of 135.5 km, which will see the riders take their bikes across Seeb Souq, Muscat Expressway, Al Ghubrah, Al Hamriyah and Al Jissah before arriving at the Muttrah Corniche.