Robert Gesink scored his second stage win in as many days, and his Rabobank team’s fourth out of five, in winning the fifth stage of the Tour of Oman on Saturday.
Gesink consolidated his overall lead in the race, and now leads second-placed overall Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) by 1-13, with Farnese Vini’s Giovanni Visconti now third overall, at 1-19, after putting in an excellent ride against the clock to post the second best time of the day, 16 seconds slower than Gesink.
Team Sky were left a little disappointed when a TV helicopter appeared to come a little too close to Boasson Hagen at the turnaround point of the 18.5km out-and-back course, and the Norwegian could only finish fifth, losing 29 seconds to Gesink.
“Edvald rode a good time trial, but Gesink did a really good one, and showed he’s the best at this race,” said Sky directeur sportif Servais Knaven. “We’re still second in the GC, but without the helicopter coming so close, I think Edvald might have finished in the top three, as he was nearly standing still.
“He almost crashed because of his deep-rim wheels,” Knaven continued, “and he lost his rhythm. At that point, he was around the same time as Gesink. Everybody saw it from the race organiser’s car, but I don’t know what they can do, though – that’s the problem. It must have cost him at least 10 seconds – maybe more because he lost his concentration.”
Boasson Hagen certainly started the day as one of the favourites for the stage win, having won the corresponding stage on a similar course at last year’s Tour of Oman.
However, the result of this year bringing the riders back to the Al Jissah resort doubled the amount of climbing, which played into climber Gesink’s hands, and relegated time-trial world champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) to fourth place on the stage.
Gesink’s overall victory should now be assured, with Sunday’s final stage consisting of 157 relatively flat kilometres, with the only difficulty being a tough climb at the start of the stage, where a break will be almost certain to get away.
“If it’s a bunch sprint, then Edvald will try again for the stage win,” said Knaven, demonstrating just how versatile Boasson Hagen’s abilities are. “And you would expect a bunch sprint. But then with all this wind, you never know here.
“Edvald has got really good form, and is consistently finishing in the top five every day, but if you want to try to drop Gesink on the climb, well, you’re not going to be able to do that…”
Tour of Oman 2011, stage five: Al Jissah – Al Jissah (individual time trial), 18.5km
1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank in 29.20
2. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini at 16 secs
3. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad at 24 secs
4. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek at 27 secs
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 29 secs
6. Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre at 36 secs
7. Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad at 37 secs
8. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank at 43 secs
9. Arnold Jeannsson (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 59 secs
10. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-01
44. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 2-17
51. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 2-42
67. Andrew Fenn (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 3-05
101. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 4-15
103. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 4-19
111. Mark McNally (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 4-54
Overall classification after stage five
1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 1-13
3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini at 1-19
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad at 1-52
5. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 2-04
6. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek at 2-11
7. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step at 2-13
8. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 2-19
9. Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Farnese Vini at 2-51
10. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC at 3-02
19. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 6-05
77. Roger Hammond (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 21-58
80. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 24-09
96. Andrew Fenn (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 27-00
100. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 27-43
105. Mark McNally (GB) An Post-Sean Kelly at 28-29
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Tour of Oman 2011: Related links
Tour of Oman 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index