Andre Greipel’s fine early season form continued with victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman.
The German claimed three stages of the Tour Down Under in January but was forced to miss the Tour of Qatar through illness.
However the Lotto-Belisol rider bounced back to hold off Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) in a bunch sprint.
Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish did not contest the finale having been forced off the road by a crash in the closing kilometres.
“Cav was with CJ [Sutton] all the time and then he got pushed out of the wheel and off onto the side of the road,” said Team Sky directeur sportif Servais Knaven. “He almost crashed and then after that he didn’t do the sprint.
“It was a bit hectic at the finish. It was flat and everyone is still fresh on the first stage. But we won’t give up – the team did a great job all day and we were controlling the race so that is good to see. Jeremy Hunt was really strong today on the front.
“The stages are perfect and not too long but there are some long transfers before or after the stages. It makes the days longer but the weather is perfect so we are not complaining.
“One difficult thing with Oman is you don’t come here many times and they change the course every year. So you cannot look back and know what it will be like. That was a little bit the case today.”
World champion Cavendish tweeted after the race: “Yep, not the best of days today. Ran off the road by Alexander Kristoff with 1200m to go. Shit happens. Well done to @AndreGreipel”
The six-stage race continues on Wednesday with a 140.5 km ride from Sur to Wadi Dayqah Dam which is expected to end in another bunch sprint.
Tour of Oman stage one
1) Andre Greipel (Ger) – Lotto-Belisol
2) Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) – Katusha
3) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Barracuda
4) Marcel Kittel (Ger) – Project 1T4i
5) Peter Sagan (Svk) – Liquigas Cannondale