Tour of Oman: Andre Greipel recovers from crosswinds setback to win opening stage
Last Updated: 19/02/14 11:27am
Andre Greipel claimed his fourth win of the season
Andre Greipel fought back from being dropped in crosswinds late in the day to win stage one of the Tour of Oman and take an early overall lead.
The Lotto Belisol sprinter was one of a number of riders caught out when strong gusts caused splits in the peloton with just under 25km remaining of the 164.5km route from As Suwayq Castle to Naseem Garden.
Greipel found himself marooned in the second group on the road, but after a frantic chase, they managed to regain contact with around 15km to go to set up a bunch finish.
Greipel then proceeded to sprint to his fourth win of the season, beating Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) into second and Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF) into third.
Having collected ten bonus seconds for his victory, Greipel now leads the general classification, four seconds ahead of Howard and six seconds in front of Ruffoni.
"There was a split in the bunch in the final, but with the headwinds, the first group had no chance," Greipel said. "We deserved that win as we worked all day for it and, again, it was a nice team effort."
Chris Froome (Team Sky), racing for the first time this season, finished safely in the peloton in 24th place, with team-mate and compatriot Ben Swift crossing the line 13th.
Froome's rival for overall victory, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), had a scare when he found himself on the wrong side of the split in the peloton, but like Greipel, the Spaniard managed to chase back to the main bunch.
Wednesday's second stage takes the riders on a rolling 139km route from Al Bustan to Quriyat and should end in another bunch sprint.
Stage one result
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol, 4:03:31
2 Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, same time
3 Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, st
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, st
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
6 Michael van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen, st
7 Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin, st
8 Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
9 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st
10 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana, st
13 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, st
25 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
63 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, st
93 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, st
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol, 4:03:21
2 Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, +4secs
3 Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, +6
4 Preben van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, same time
5 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +7
6 Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, st
7 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing, +9
8 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare, st
9 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, +10
10 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
18 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, st
29 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
67 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, st
94 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, st