JABAL AL AKHDHAR, Oman, Feb 18, 2012 (AFP) – Italy’s Vicenzo Nibali of the
Liquigas team won the fifth stage of the Tour of Oman following a grueling
climb to the summit of the Green Mountain on Saturday.
The 27-year-old attacked four kilometers from the line following a tough
6km climb, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Slovak Peter Velits who took the
leader’s red jersey from Germany’s Andre Greipel.
France’s Sandy Casar finished third at 25sec after the 158km stage.
Velits has a slim one-second lead on Nibali in the overall standings with
France’s Tony Gallopin 17sec off the pace going into Sunday’s sixth and final
stage over 130km from Al Khawd to Matrah Corniche.
“It was a long race into the climbs today,” Velits said. “In the last climb Nibali attacked. I tried to jump in his wheel but I wasn’t able to catch him. I kept my pace in the middle between Nibali and the group that was behind me. I could try to stay with him. Maybe I made a little mistake at that point but I was waiting for the reaction of the group. When I realized that nobody was able to react I gave everything, thinking about the GC. The distance between me and Nibali remained the same but we gained time on the chasing group. When I crossed the line it was fantastic to hear that I’d taken the red jersey. Last time that I had a leader jersey on my shoulders it was 5 years ago. I was riding in South Africa at that time. Actually this is the first leader jersey of my career. I’m over the moon. The work we’ve done during the winter is repaying us now. Also today the team was fantastic and they really went for me during the stage! I’m really proud of our race. Tomorrow the race will finish in a circuit. I hope that nothing big is going to happen. We will see.”
“It’s liberating after a long wait,” said 2010 Tour of Spain winner Nibali
who has not achieved a win since the Trophee Melina in August 2010.
“I had to push myself to the limit. I attacked very strong on a steep
climb. I gave everything I had in my belly. I never looked over my shoulder.”
“This gives me a lot of confidence,” added the 27-year-old who finished
third in last year’s Tour of Italy.
Results from the 158km fifth
stage of the Tour of Oman here on Saturday:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas 4hr 43min 47sec (average: 33,406 km/h),
2. Peter Velits (SVK) at 10sec, 3. Sandy Casar (FRA) 25, 4. Arnold Jeannesson
(FRA) 30, 5. Tony Gallopin (FRA) 37, 6. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED) 47, 7. Joaquim
Rodriguez (ESP) 55, 8. Thomas Lebas (FRA) 57, 9. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 1:01,
10. Ramunas Navardauskas (LIT) 1:02
Selected: 16. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) 1:50, 34. Andy Schleck (LUX) 4:22
1. Peter Velits (SVK) Omega Pharma 18hr 20min 58sec, 2. Vincenzo Nibali
(ITA) at 1sec, 3. Tony Gallopin (FRA) 17, 4. Sandy Casar (FRA) 21, 5. Arnold
Jeannesson (FRA) 30, 6. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED) 30, 7. Joachim Rodriguez (ESP)
47, 8. Ramunas Navardauskas (LIT) 49, 9. Thomas Lebas (FRA) 50, 10. Fabian
Cancellara (SUI) 52