Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling won a second consecutive stage on the Tour of Oman on Wednesday to strengthen his grip on the overall race leader’s red jersey.
Sagan emerged victorious on the 190km third stage from Nakhal Fort to Wadi Dayqah Dam in the Hajar mountains.
In the same spot where he claimed his first win for Cannondale a year ago, Sagan beat Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet of BMC and France’s Tony Gallopin of RadioShack to take victory on the line by one second, with Alberto Contador a close fourth.
Sagan, who won three stages on last year’s Tour de France, sits 16 seconds ahead of Gallopin in the overall standings, but knows he faces a tough hilly fourth stage where Italian Vincenzo Nibali triumphed last year.
“Tomorrow [Thursday], the victory will be for someone else, not for me,” he said after receiving the leaders red jersey, as well as the green for points and white for best young rider.
A strong field in Oman is headed by last year’s Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and it also features his Sky Pro Cycling teammate Chris Froome, as well as the likes of Tom Boonen, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara and Contador.
Saxo-Tinkoff rider Contador is expected to battle with Nibali among others for stage four honors and the race remains wide open, with Britain’s Froome and Australian Evans also still in with a chance.
However, Wiggins appears out of the running after losing 1 minute, 37 seconds on stage three, while last year’s winner, Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez, also lost 59 seconds in his faltering defense.
British Olympic champion Wiggins was a distant 3:29 adrift in the overall standings and facing a monumental challenge to get back among the leaders.
Yesterday’s fourth stage was a 152.5km ride through the mountains from Al Satiyah to the finish line at the peak of a stiff climb at Jabal Al Akhdar.