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Alessandro Ballan of the BMC Racing Team (upper right) joins stage winner Jimmy Casper (center), runner-up Edvald Boasson Hagen (top left) and cycling legend Eddy Merckx (right) on the Stage 1 podium of the Tour of Oman. (Photo by Tim de Waele.)
Alessandro Ballan of the BMC Racing Team (upper right) joins stage winner Jimmy Casper (center), runner-up Edvald Boasson Hagen (top left) and cycling legend Eddy Merckx (right) on the Stage 1 podium of the Tour of Oman. (Photo by Tim de Waele.)

Tour of Oman, Stage 1: Ballan Most Aggressive

14. February 2010

Muscat, Oman

Alessandro Ballan put the BMC Racing Team on the podium Sunday night at the inaugural Tour of Oman when he donned the Most Aggressive Rider jersey following the Stage 1 twilight criterium.

Ballan Part Of Breakaway
Ballan, the 2008 world road champion, was part of a group of three that merged with another three-man breakaway during the sixth of 16 trips around a 2.5-mile (4 km) circuit on Muscat Corniche. The six gained a maximum lead of 40 seconds and Ballan won the intermediate sprint before they were caught with 15 miles (25 km) to go. A second break of four also escaped the field, but never gained more than 20 seconds before the field regrouped for the final two laps. “Avoiding splits and crashes was most important today,” BMC Racing Team Director John Lelangue said. “I think the best thing was to be in the break.” 

The Danger of Darkness
John Murphy’s 14th place finish led the team as Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) won the 38-mile (61 km) race ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Pro Cycling Team) in a field sprint contested by all 126 riders.  BMC Racing Team’s Marcus Burghardt said he was relieved at the finish because the unusual nature of racing at night made for some scary moments. “I think it was better to stay in the bunch and to ride safety because it was a bit dark,” he said. “For the spectators, it was a big highlight. It was something new. But it was also dangerous. People didn’t expect the speed of the bunch. There were hands and lots of cameras sticking out into the bunch.”

Looking Ahead
Monday’s 92-mile (148.5 km) stage from the city of Nizwa northeast to the town of Samail is likely to be a more animated day of racing, Lelangue said. “If there is a break with more than seven or eight riders, then one of our three leaders (Ballan, Burghardt or Michael Schär) needs to be in it,” he said. “If it is a small break, we’ll have someone like Simon Zahner, Jackson Stewart or Martin Kohler represent us in it. Of course, we always save Murphy or Alexander Kristoff for the bunch sprints.”