Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) opened his 2013 account with victory on stage one of the Tour of Oman.
The German sprinter moved into the leader’s jersey after outpacing Davide Appollonio (AG2R La Mondiale) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) in a bunch sprint on the 162km stage from Al Musannah to Sultan Qaboos University.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome enjoyed an uneventful start to his season, while Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins avoided a late crash to also safely roll home in the peloton.
The Tour of Oman sees many of the Grand Tour contenders go head-to-head for the first time this year, wanting to test their early-season form thanks to a selective course which rises to 1,235m with the climb of Green Mountain on stage four.
Wiggins and Froome, who completed a British one-two for Team Sky in last year’s Tour de France, are riding together for the first time in 2013 and are not scheduled to race alongside each other again until the Tour in July.
The Tour of Oman’s impressive start list also includes Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Despite the lumpy parcours to come, the first stage was always set for the bunch sprint and the customary break went clear early in the day, with Bobbie Traksel (Champion System) and Kohei Uchima (Japan) opening up a gap of more than nine minutes.
Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEDGE set about reducing that deficit and the duo were reeled in ahead of the bunch gallop, with Traksel sitting up with 30km to go and Uchima caught inside the final 15km, leaving Kittel to record his first win of the season.
Stage two covers 146km from Fanja In Bidbid to Al Bustan, with two shorts climbs coming inside the final 25km.
Tour of Oman 2013 – stage one – result
1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Argos-Shimano – 4:04:59 hours
2) Davide Appollonio (ITA) – Ag2r La Mondiale – same time
3) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ
4) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
5) Tom Boonen (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6) Taylor Phinney (USA) – BMC Racing
7) Filippo Fortin (ITA) – Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
8) Kristof Goddaert (BEL) – IAM Cycling
9) Elia Viviani (ITA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
10) Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA) – Astana
1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Argos-Shimano – 4:04:49 hours
2) Davide Appollonio (ITA) – Ag2r La Mondiale +4″
3) Bobbie Traksel (NED) – Champion System – same time
4) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ +6″
5) Dominique Rollin (CAN) – FDJ +9″
6) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox – same time
7) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha +10″
8) Tom Boonen (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – same time
9) Taylor Phinney (USA) – BMC Racing
10) Filippo Fortin (ITA) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox