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Greg Van Avermaet went solo after being part of a four-man breakaway. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Greg Van Avermaet went solo after being part of a four-man breakaway. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Tour of Oman, Stage 4: Van Avermaet's Breakaway

21. February 2014

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet was part of a four-man breakaway Friday at the Tour of Oman while teammate Tejay van Garderen finished in a chase group that arrived two seconds after a pair of riders sprinted it out for the stage win.

The Stage:
Four trips up the climb of Bousher Alamrat were the featured aspect of the 173-kilometer race from Wadi Al Abiyad to the Ministry of Housing. The 3.4-km ascent averaged 8.8 percent and temperatures reached into the upper 20s Celcius, making it the hottest day of the race to date.

The Breakaway:
After 15 km, Van Avermaet and three others – Evan Huffman (Astana Pro Team), Yaroslav Popovych (Trek Factory Racing) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) – got an escape move to stick. After 50 km, their lead peaked at eight minutes. With 40 km to go, they were only two minutes ahead of the pack, which had started to break up on the second ascent of the climb.

A Late Attack:
With 33 km and two more climbs remaining, Van Avermaet attacked the breakaway group. For the next 15 km, he maintained a one-minute advantage before being caught about a kilometer from the top of the final summit.

The Winning Move:
On the descent of the last climb, three riders attacked: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). They rapidly gained 10 seconds, stretched their lead to 19 seconds with three kilometers to go, then saw it pegged back to six with a kilometer to go. Sagan out-sprinted Uran to take the stage win, two seconds ahead of Nibali, who was swallowed by a 20-rider chase group at the line.

Best For The BMC Racing Team:
Van Garderen finished 22nd and was the BMC Racing Team's only rider in the leading chase group. Dominik Nerz was next in 27th and Peter Velits finished 30th, both 46 seconds back.

In The Overall Standings:
Sagan assumed the overall lead and, thanks to a time bonus, is 10 seconds ahead of Uran, with Nibali in third, at 14 seconds. Van Garderen is ninth and one of 18 riders who are 18 seconds off the lead.

What Greg Van Avermaet Said:
"It was a hard day for me because we were only four guys. I hoped for more guys in the break. But it was like it was. With four, we tried to do a good breakaway. The second-to-last climb, I tried to attack and stay in front until the last  climb. But the last climb was just one kilometer too long to help anybody else in the front group. Already this week, I am feeling pretty good. I am feeling good about my shape."

What Tejay van Garderen Said:
"I felt good. I didn't feel like I was in top, top form. I could respond to one or two attacks, but by the third one, I was like, 'Oh this hurts.' When you are on good form, you can spin a lighter gear and go with the flow. And I was having to muscle it there at the end."

What Sport Director Valerio Piva Said:
"Greg tried hard in the final, attacking on the second-to-last climb and he was really strong. But he missed holding on by one kilometer. He did a good performance today. Normally, this is not his parcours. But he was trying and that's a good sign that he is strong and in good shape.

"We came here with two leaders for the general classification: Tejay van Garderen and Peter Velits. Now it's clear that Tejay is the best and Velits is not in the best shape. But Nerz was there today. I hope Tejay will do his best tomorrow. He's strong in the head right now and the others will need to help him. We still have the final stage on Sunday, but that is normally a sprinter's stage."

Looking Ahead:
The penultimate stage of the race is considered the queen stage due to the finish at the top of Green Mountain. Traveling 147.5 kilometers from Bidbid, and nearly uphill the entire way, the riders face a finishing climb of 5.7 km that averages 10.5 percent.

Listen to complete comments from Piva, Van Avermaet and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.

See photos from the race on the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.

View videos from the race on the BMC Racing Team's YouTube channel.