Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung got the Tour of Oman off to a good start with Johann van Zyl being the main protagonist of the first stage. The win however went to Andrea Gaurdini (Astana) with Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep) and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
It was inside the first kilometer of the day that Johann went on the attack with 3 other riders. The quartet built up a good early lead of just over 5 minutes with 50km completed.
After passing through the feedzone, Johann tried to inject a bit more life into the move and ended up going away solo. His 3 companions were then reeled in by the bunch as the young South African put his head down for the line.
Johann was able to hold the gap steady at 3 minutes for quite some time before the sprinters teams decided to begin chasing our lone attacker. The firepower in the peloton ensured the race was back together with just 30km to go yet Johann was still able to pick up enough bonus seconds during the stage to end the day in 5th position on GC and 2nd in the young rider competition.
Driving the bunch to the line, Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo and Lampre all had a strong presence at the front of the bunch. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were looking to Edvald Boasson Hagen and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg for the sprint but the battle for position was intense and our African team would have Edvald finish in 17th position.
Johann van Zyl – Rider
“The plan was to try and get into the break to score some points and get seconds, knowing that if there are no time gaps at the finish I’ll have a chance at wearing the young riders jersey. So getting into the break was easy as the first move went. Then I lived up to my nickname (VanSnail) by coming 4/4 at the first sprint, scoring no points.
My tactic was to then go a bit earlier for the 2nd sprint. I timed it a bit wrong as i went with more than 10km to go. When i realised that, it was already too late and he had good legs so i just kept going. Then after the sprint I kind of sat up and rode easy as it was obvious that it was going to be a bunch sprint. The bunch also slowed down a bit so it was a long day cruising in the front.”
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
“Today Johann put in a really great ride. He was in the front from almost kilometer zero and was caught around 25km to go after spending the last 50km in the break solo. He is now 5th on the general classification and this is a good start for our team. Our best sprinter today was Edvald, finishing just inside the top 20.
Our plan was to get Johann into the break with the possibility of wearing the young riders jersey. He was beaten by Konrad of Bora, by 1 second. Our sprinters did not succeed today but we are working on it. The plan was good but we also need good legs to make it happen.”