Uno-X rebounds from Tour de France wildcard omission with Oman stage win

Scandi squad not disheartened by ASO's call to overlook it for 2022 Tour wildcard slot: 'It will come eventually, when we deserve it.'

Photo: Getty Images

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One day after missing out on a Tour de France wildcard, the Uno-X team competing at the Tour of Oman celebrated victory with Anthon Charmig and assumed the race lead having started with just three riders.

Charmig’s strategy was a simple ‘save your legs for the last climb to the finish’ after one of his teammates tested positive to COVID-19 overnight and another was sidelined with stomach problems.

The Danish rider celebrated his first professional victory on stage 3, beating Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Élie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic), and proved to be a quick study.

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Uno-X sports director Leonard Snoeks said the stage from Muscat to rocky outcrop Qurayyat was like stage 2 at the Saudi Tour earlier this month where Charmig placed third behind Santiago Buitrago Sanchez and Andrea Bagioli.

“We had a good reference point in the similarity from the stage in Saudi, so we knew he could do it, but it’s of course a special day with three guys on the start, and then to actually take the win that was perfect,” said Snoeks.

“They were taking care of bringing him in front and then, well, tag along, play it cool, play it cool, just follow, follow, follow and make sure in the last corner you have the kick to follow, or go for the stage. It wasn’t that heavy a tactic today.”

The victory, along with the red leader’s jersey, meant a lot to the second-tier team, which has scored invites to Paris-Roubaix and the Critérium du Dauphiné this season.

“It shows that we can. I mean, we have something in this company. We have already a good start this season, so this is just another add-on, which is fantastic,” Snoeks said.

“It spreads through the group and it’s motivating for the other guys in the team, for the staff, to know that we’re doing something right. It’s something to build on. We take it day-by-day but of course we’re in for the long-term, so we need to build up.”

As a Norwegian team, an invite to the Tour de France, which starts in Copenhagen this year, would have been especially sweet, but Snoeks said the squad was not too disheartened by race organizer ASO’s call to overlook them for French teams.

“We were aiming for it, but we focus on the races we get, and it will come eventually, when we deserve it,” he said. “Of course, it’s nice to see a lot of people want to see us at the Tour, we want to be there also, but step-by-step. We’ve also got the Dauphiné now so it’s a good setup for us. Let’s focus on the races we have first.”

Stage 4 on Sunday features four climbs and Monday’s run to Green Mountain will be especially tough. Uno-X knows the race will be hard to control with only three riders and will likely put the onus on bigger teams to do it.

“With three guys there isn’t that much to do,” Snoeks said. “We felt like already we’ve actually won a bit. We were aiming for a stage here and now we’ve got one, so we can lower our shoulders. We try to defend in the best way, we know Charmig is strong, and there’s a couple of hard stages to go, especially Green Mountain. He should be up there.”

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