16 February 2019, Suhar Corniche (OMR)
Michael Schär celebrated the start of his tenth consecutive appearance at the Tour of Oman by attacking to make the breakaway on stage one and earning the most aggressive rider gold jersey.
Schär was one of four riders to attack as soon as the flag dropped at kilometer zero and quickly gained a four-minute advantage in the opening 20 kilometers before the sprinters’ teams started to chase from behind to control the gap.
Schär was second across the line at the first intermediate sprint to pick up two bonus seconds, after which the breakaway maintained an advantage between two and three minutes as the race continued along the flat coastal roads.
As the breakaway approached the second and final intermediate sprint, Schär was positioned well and powered past his breakaway companions to win the sprint and gain another three bonus seconds, which was enough to claim the gold jersey after stage one.
With an expected bunch sprint on the cards, the sprinters’ teams were eager to pull Schär’s breakaway back and eventually made the catch with seven kilometers to go.
CCC Team stayed out of the trouble at the front of the bunch, around Greg Van Avermaet, to avoid the possibility of a chaotic sprint finish and delivered Van Avermaet safely to the line in 15th place behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).
With the five bonus seconds from the intermediate sprints, Schär sits in third place overall ahead of the second stage.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I was not planning on going in the breakaway until one minute before the start and I passed our sports director Valerio Piva and we were joking, so I said “I’m going to go in the breakaway” and he said “Why not?”. I tried and it was the first move to go. It was good to be up there and open the legs up a bit. The four minute advantage was good to have and for a moment I thought maybe we would have a chance if we play it smart, go slow to the feed zone and then drill it to the line. I tried to tell the other guys a little bit how we should ride but some of the sports directors didn’t have the same mindset as me. They wanted to have their guys in the breakaway back in the bunch for the sprint lead outs. I think if you are in the breakaway you have to honor the sport and go and have a try.”
“I really like the Tour of Oman. After all of these years it’s become a bit of a tradition. It was funny this morning as the organizers came to take a photo with my friend Alexandr Kristoff, the other guy who has raced all ten editions. At the end, he won and I was in the breakaway so we have a nice story from today.”
Tour of Oman
Stage 1: Al Sawadi beach > Suhar Corniche (138.5km)
Top 3: 1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), 2. Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept – B&B Hotels), 3. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
CCC Team top 3: 15. Greg Van Avermaet, 24. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, 65. Gijs Van Hoecke.