Tour of Oman S5: Matteo Jorgenson wins overall after fending off Mauri Vansevenant in final mountaintop

US rider caps a superb week with his first professional stage win and overall stage race victory.

Photo: Alex Broadway/Getty Images

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JABAL AL AKHDHAR, Oman (VN) — Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) won the overall at the Tour of Oman on Wednesday after fending off Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step) in a fierce uphill battle.

The Belgian won the stage, and Jorgenson crossed the line second in a head-to-head clash on the Jabal al Akhdhar summit finish.

With time bonuses at the line, Jorgenson had just enough in the tank to claim his first pro GC victory by one second over the Belgian. However, he had a nervous wait to discover that he had done so, and only celebrated once the result was made official.

Vansevenant had done everything he could to topple Jorgenson and he was spent as he crossed the line, but he couldn’t shake the American. The stage win was something of a consolation, especially as he did it in front of his family, who were at the finish line.

“It was incredibly hard. It was a five-kilometer climb of more than 10 percent average, so I was pushing and pushing all the time. Also, the head was incredibly tough today, but I kind of hard a good feeling,” Vansevenant said at the finish. “I tried to go to make my GC. Anyway, we already have one victory so it’s not so bad.

“[Jan Hirt] said to me that you just have to wait until the final five kilometers and then after the flat section you go. I waited as long as possible and then we go full. It’s nice to do it together with the family. It’s nice to have them here and it also gives you extra motivation. Every day we try as best as possible but not every day it is possible. If we have good team and good form then a lot of things are possible.”

At 5.7km at 10 percent, the final climb was steep enough to put everything in play. Canadian rider Benjamin Perry (Human Powered Health) was part of the day’s main breakaway, but the pack came together heading toward the final peak.

An elite group of hitters surged to the front with 2km to go, with Jorgenson marking the wheels of his GC rivals. Louis Meintjes, Tuesday’s winner Diego Ulissi, and Alexey Lutsenko all struggled to match the pace.

Taaramäe surged to split the leading pack, with Jorgenson holding on with just over 1km to go. Bouchard, who started 14 seconds back, attacked at the red kite to put everyone on pressure. At just 5 seconds back on GC, Vansevenant countered, and Jorgenson was still there.

Vansevenant crossed ahead of Jorgenson, but the American was close enough that the race jury awarded them the same time at the line. Even with the time bonuses, Jorgenson won his first overall GC race of his pro career.

The stage capped an impressive week by Jorgenson. Not only did he win his first pro victory in stage 3, he also won his first professional GC stage race. The American also won the points and young rider’s jersey, assuring him plenty of podium time.

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S4: Diego Ulissi kicks to stage victory, Matteo Jorgenson defends lead

Ulissi celebrates victory. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

YITTI HILLS, Oman (VN) — Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) kicked to victory in the grinding finale at stage 4 at the Tour of Oman.

Overnight leader Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) finished near the front to defend his leader’s jersey that came with his first career stage win yesterday.

With time bonuses, Ulissi moves into second at five seconds back.

Riders were attacking hard on the steep uphill kicker, with Axel Zingle (Cofidis) finishing second, and Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) crossing the line third.

“I’m delighted with this first victory of the season. It was a hard stage. [Pascal] Ackermann attacked with eight kilometers to go and on the final climb [Vegard Stake] Laengen and [Davide] Formolo did the perfect job for setting up the sprint,” Ulissi said. “Ackermann’s attack softened up the bunch well and we took a great victory. We’ve started the season well as a team.”

After three days of fairly calm racing, the fourth stage of the Tour of Oman kicked off at a rapid pace. Attack after attack went off the front for close to 100 kilometers before a breakaway finally got a solid gap. Youcef Reguigui (Terengganu Polygon), Yevgeniy Federov (Astana-Qazaqstan), Fredrik Dversnes (Uno-X), and Urko Barrade (Kern Pharma) were the four that made it clear.

The race calmed down after that and settled into a steady pace until it hit the final two climbs. the break was quickly brought back and the bunch splintered to pieces. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan), who started the day over 30 seconds behind Jorgenson, put in a huge attack near the top of the Al Jissah ascent.

Jorgenson was hot on his tail, along with two others, cautious that he may be looking to gain time before the Jabal All Akhdhar finale Wednesday. Lutsenko did eventually carve out a small gap but it was swiftly eliminated on the fast and sweeping descent.

Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) attacked with under 10km, on the descent, to try to get a jump on the bunch. The final hump at 1.7km at 5.8 percent put a spicy end to a very fast stage.

Ackermann was caught inside four kilometers to go and a late attack from Kern Pharma was nullified shortly after the flame rouge. In the end, it was Ulissi who took the honors, having come close on stage 2 already.

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S3: Matteo Jorgenson scores long-awaited first pro win

Matteo Jorgenson
Matteo Jorgenson wins for the first time as a pro. (Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images)

JABAL HATT, Oman (VN) — Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) kicked out of a small group of climbers Monday to clinch his long-awaited first pro victory.

Jorgenson, 23, came close to the big “W” already this week and didn’t miss his chance on the Jabal Hatt hilltop, beating back Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step) and Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) for that marquee result and the leader’s jersey.

Victory in Oman sees the California-native Jorgenson come good after he knocked at the door of prestigious wins at the Tour de France and Paris-Nice last season.

He now carries a six-second GC lead into another lumpy stage Tuesday.

“It’s super special. It’s just a huge moment of relief. Those things start to cross your mind, maybe I’m just not the type of rider who can win, maybe I don’t have the talent. Finally, I proved it to myself,” Jorgenson said. “It was mostly about legs, that climb was pretty steep at moments. I wanted to go on the steep part to test everyone. It took them a second to get back so I knew that I had pretty good legs in the end.

“I felt super comfortable and thankfully (Alexey) Lutsenko had a teammate in the group and he kind of paced us and we made it to the sprint and, at 200, I went and didn’t look back. A lot of it was thanks to my team, we entered the climb in a super good position, thanks to Mattias [Norsgaard] and Imanol [Erviti], and then Max [Kanter] brought me up at the beginning of the climb, and then Abner [Gonzalez],  he came straight from Puerto Rico to here and he was a bit jetlagged so it was really nice to see him riding strong and keeping me out of the wind. All in all, it was a really nice day.”

Most of the day was marked by a five-man breakaway, but the tough uphill finale meant it was always going to come down to a fight between the prospective GC contenders. The breakaway was absorbed back into the bunch with six kilometers to go, just in time for the peloton to sort itself out for the climb to come.

Stage 2 winner, and overnight race leader, Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) was dropped inside the final kilometer, ensuring that there would be a new leader heading into the final two days of racing. After launching an earlier move, Jorgenson made his defining attack with 200 meters to go, putting air between himself and his rivals before the line.

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S2: Jesús Herrada kicks to stage win and GC lead

Herrada reigns on the Qurayyat hilltop.

QURAYYAT, Oman (VN) — Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) surged out of a pack of puncheurs to scoop the second stage and the leader’s jersey of the Tour of Oman.

Herrada kicked at around 300 meters to go on the steep Qurayyat finale with an acceleration that put second- and third-place finishers Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) into the rearview. He holds a four-second lead over Van Gils with three days and the Jabal Al Akhdhar summit finish still to come.

U.S. rider Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) was in the mix at the finish and crossed the line to take fourth and put himself in a good place overall ahead of some tougher climbing days to come.

Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman took the riders from the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, on the outskirts of Muscat, to Qurayya, which they would climb twice. An early climb almost immediately after kilometer zero tested the riders early on but there were no real challenges after that before the final two ascents.

While previous years have seen wind and sand have an impact on this stage, the breeze was light and caused no trouble for the peloton.

A breakaway of six riders got up the road early on, with the stage 1 most aggressive rider Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon) getting in the move again. He was joined by Ivan Coyo Cabon (Equipo Kern Pharma), Fredrik Dversnes (Uno-X), Kosuke Takeyama (JCL Team Ukyo), Angel Fuentes Paniego (Burgos BH), and Luca van Boven (Bingoal WB).

The quintet worked well together until it hit the first of the two ascents, where it promptly broke up into small groups with Coyo Cabon and Dversnes leading the way. The gap to the peloton was under two minutes by then and it was only a matter of time before they were reeled in.

Once the break was back, it was very much a waiting game for the bunch as the riders bided their time for the final bend. Once the line was in sight, Herrada then distanced his fellow competitors with a stinging sprint.

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Tour of Oman S1: Tim Merlier wins big

Tim Merlier celebrates victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Oman. (Photo: Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Tim Merlier opened his 2023 season with a win in a bunch kick at the end of Saturday’s first stage at the Tour of Oman.

The new arrival at Soudal Quick-Step made easy work of the bunch, winning ahead of David Dekker (Arkéa-Samsic). Alex Zingle (Cofidis) crossed the line third.

Mark Cavendish seemed blocked in the bunch and sat up when he couldn’t make his sprint and finished 21st for Astana-Qazaqstan.

Merlier celebrated by cradling his arms as he crossed the line, and dedicated his win to his new-born son, Jules.

“I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been a father for almost two weeks now, and this is what makes today’s result so special. This victory is for my son,” Merlier said. “I was really eager to experience this feeling as fast as possible on the road, and I’m delighted that I did it here, in my very first stage race with the team.

“In the closing kilometers, I lost the guys a bit, but I could come back, and it was quite easy to follow Bert from that moment on,” he said. “Then, in the sprint, I went a bit too early, but I had what it took to keep the speed, and this gives me a lot of confidence for the future.”

The opening stage of the race was the biggest opportunity for the sprinters to get a win on the board. There will be some other chances later in the race, but they come with uphill finishes that could complicate things.

A three-man breakaway kicked up the road early on with Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon), Rodrigo Alvarez (Burgos BH), and Said Al Rahbi (Oman) going clear. They were kept on a tight leash throughout the day with little more than a couple of minutes separating them and the peloton for most of the day.

Meijers was the last man standing in the lead group, earning him the title of most aggressive for the day. He could only hold the pack off for so long, though, and he was back in the bunch with 16k to go.

From then on it was always going to be a sprint. Soudal Quick-Step had been on the front for most of the day, along with Astana-Qazaqstan, and Merlier delivered on their work with a convincing win.

Cavendish had been one of the pre-stage favorites for the win, but he also struggled to stay on the back of his train in the finale and finished just outside the top 20. It was also the first time he’d had a chance to work with his leadout after making a late move to Astana over the winter.

“The last four kilometers it was super sketchy, and also we rode perfectly together with the team, from about three until one kilometer to go, but then we lost each other a little bit because it was really, really chaotic, a big mess there,” said Martin Laas, Cavendish’s new leadout man.

“We managed to come back together and then we did quite a good job for the final and then, in the end, maybe we messed up a little bit with the leadout for it to be perfect, but we tried our best and this was our first race and the first with me and Cav even, the first training together basically. So it takes a little bit of time in the end, but we did good together.”

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Jenthe Biermans wins inaugural Muscat Classic

Jenthe Biermans wins the Muscat Classic
Jenthe Biermans wins the Muscat Classic (Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images)

MUSCAT, Oman (VN) — Jenthe Biermans got Arkéa-Samsic’s 2023 win tally up and running Friday with victory in the inaugural Muscat Classic.

Biermans sprinted out of a reduced bunch on a slight uphill rise following an aggressive finale to the 173km race that saw a string of attacks in the final five kilometers. Jordi Worlop (Soudal Quick-Step) pushed Biermans close to take second place with Andrea Vendrame (AG2R-Citroen) taking third.

None of the major sprinters in the bunch made the key split with several, including Mark Cavendish on his Astana debut, stepping off before the finish. Indeed, close to half the field wouldn’t finish the race after losing touch with the front of the race over the final climbs.

“This is amazing, this is my first professional victory. Two weeks ago, I got my first podium in Valencia with second place. The team believed so hard in me the whole way through, from my teammates and my directors,” Biermans said. “I’m happy to finish it off and take my first professional victory. It’s very emotional for me because it’s my first victory in my seventh year as a professional and last year, my girlfriend’s father died and it was very hard emotionally for the whole family. He always said that I could win a race, and this means a lot for me.

“For me, it was not the perfect race because they rode easy on the flat, and on every climb they went full gas. This was hard for me, but I managed to survive. I was one of the last ones on one climb and my teammate Michel Ries stayed with me. He dropped in the last 100 meters and kept screaming in the radio ‘come on, come on, you can do this.’ In a sprint, I know I’m fast in this kind of finishes. My teammates brought me perfectly in position.”

The one-day Muscat Classic is a new addition to the calendar, complementing the five-day Tour of Oman, which follows immediately afterward.

Manabu Ishibashi of the Japanese squad JCLTeam Ukyo was the only rider brave enough to try and go on the attack. The 30-year-old gained over 15 minutes on the pack at one point, before he was meticulously reeled back in and caught after 140km riding solo.

With Ishibashi safely back in the bunch, the action picked up as the climbers and classics stars sized each other up over the rolling finale. The result was a thinned-out group of about 20 riders that surged ahead, but that soon grew closer to 50 as dropped riders regained contact in the final kilometers.

The terrain was not quite tough enough to serve as a launch pad for a late move to stick and, in the end, a small bunch of 32 contested the victory.

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