Wiggins frustrated by pileup in Tour of Oman

AFP, MUSCAT

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 - Page 8

Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins endured a frustrating start to his Tour of Oman challenge on Monday when he came in last more than a minute behind stage winner Marcel Kittel.

The colorful British rider was delayed by a pileup in the last few kilometers of the 162km stage and came in 1 minute, 30 seconds adrift of the leaders.

Kittel, who rides for Argos Shimano, held off the challenge of Italian David Apollonio (AG2R) and French champion Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), following the ride from Al Musannah to Sultan Qaboos University, east of Muscat.

Former Tour de France champions Alberto Contador of Spain and Australian Cadel Evans, as well as Belgian world champion Philippe Gilbert, came home in the peloton, gaining a useful early advantage over Olympic time-trial champion Wiggins.

Wiggins openly admitted that he came into the race short of form, but he now faces an even tougher challenge to catch Contador and Evans in the six-stage race that culminates on Saturday in Matra Corniche.

The stage had been marked by a long escape which was led by Dutch rider Bobbie Traksel, who was in the company of Kohei Uchima, a member of the Japanese team, the only national formation in the race.

The two men made their break after just 1km. Traksel was reeled in by the peloton with 32km to go and Uchima survived another 16km before he too was swept up.

Kittel, 24, meanwhile, became the first rider to win three stages on the race after taking two last year, adding to arguably his finest moment when he won the seventh stage of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana.

He would don the overall leader’s red jersey for the second stage yesterday, which was a 146km ride from Fanja in Bidbid to Al Bustan.