Race report

Triple top 10 finish as Team DSM animate Tour of Oman Stage 4

Tour of Oman

A short but sharp 120 kilometres lay ahead of the riders today at the Tour of Oman, with the three ascents of the Bousher Al Amerat climb (four kilometres at six and a half percent), and the circuit that went along with it, dominating the second half of the stage.

It was a steady opening to proceedings as a three rider group escaped early into the stage, building up a two minute lead, with all Team DSM riders biding their time for what was to come. Knowing that if the day was taken at a steady tempo then the stage would likely end up in a reduced bunch sprint, as has happened in the previous editions of the race on this route, the team set out with a plan to make the race as hard as possible and roll the proverbial dice.

Hitting the front en masse on the opening two climbs within the first 40 kilometres, the team quickly pulled back the early breakaway after some strong work, before Marco Brenner made his way into an eight rider group. However, they were soon brought to heel and the siege of attacks continued on the peloton. Eventually the elastic snapped and a fiver rider group forged on with Søren Kragh Andersen and Jonas Iversby Hvideberg making it for the team.

Riding well as group they managed to pull out a one minute gap as they hit the Bousher Al Amerat climb for the first time but the reduced peloton upped the tempo and approaching the second ascent, things were almost all back together as more attacks flew and one rider went solo. The peloton thinned down even more as Kevin Vermaerke attempted to counter and bridge with another rider. Yet on the final ascent an infernal pace was set and he was caught by those charging out of the peloton, but never gave up.

Pushing the pace Henri Vandenabeele went clear in a small GC group and he was soon joined by a fast-descending Vermaerke. However, just before the two Team DSM riders joined forces, Masnada made his stage winning move by going clear on the descent, with a gap quickly opening up. Taking onus in the initial part of the chase both Vandenabeele and Vermaerke pulled hard but both were on their limits after some full gas racing and coupled with some tactical slowing of the chase by Masnada’s teammate, the gap only extended.

Giving it their all to the line, Vermaerke claimed his first .Pro level top five finish with fifth place with Vandenabeele in eighth, while Iversby Hvideverg sprinted out of the group behind to claim tenth on the stage; making it three Team DSM riders in the top ten after the squad rolled the dice and well and truly animated the day.

“Today was the hardest day of the race, even though it wasn’t a mountain top finish like we have tomorrow; it was a really aggressive parcours,” expressed Vermaerke. “We really took initiative as a team and when we made our move we went all-in and from then on we really blew the race up. We always had guys in the front moves and in the end going into the pre-final we had Søren and Jonas in the front group, with Marco, Henri and I behind and we all felt really good. On the pre-final before the last climb I went up the road with an Arkea rider and we were able to get about 30 seconds on the chase group. Going over the top we could just hang on when the front guys came with Henri. In the end, Masnada went away by himself and we gave it our best in the chase but it came down to a sprint for second. We’re happy with how we rode and are ready to give it another go tomorrow.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “It was a short stage today so we wanted an active and aggressive race. We wanted to get involved in the action from the start. With the uncategorised climb early on it was a bit cagey in the bunch so we took the initiative on the first two KOMs where we really wanted to put the peloton under pressure and create a bit of chaos to make the race more active. Søren and Jonas did a really good job of putting pressure on and splitting the bunch into three groups and we had all five of our guys in the front split. From then it was a case of being vigilant but continuing to be aggressive and move forward, to put pressure on the other teams to chase so we could react on the climb in the final with Henri, Kevin and Marco. In the end it worked out with Kevin and Henri coming over the top of the last climb in the lead group and going for the win. We just didn’t quite have it to go for the very top step but I think we can be really proud of how we performed today, we rode our own race, and animated the action.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 MASNADA Fausto Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 3:01:53 20
2 SCHMID Mauro Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 1:07 10
3 VAUQUELIN Kévin Team Arkéa Samsic ,, 5
5 VERMAERKE Kevin Team DSM ,, -
8 VANDENABEELE Henri Team DSM ,, -
10 HVIDEBERG Jonas Iversby Team DSM 1:23 -
20 BRENNER Marco Team DSM 1:26 -
72 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team DSM 11:29 -