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Kristoff continues hot early season with Stage 3 triumph at the Tour of Oman

February in the Middle East has been the setting for Alexander Kristoff's fine form, as Katusha's Norwegian took his fourth win of the season in Thursday's stage of the Tour of Oman.

February in the Middle East has been the setting for Alexander Kristoff’s fine form, as Katusha’s Norwegian took his fourth win of the season in Thursday’s stage of the Tour of Oman. Kristoff had three victories in the Tour of Qatar on his way to second overall. The Norwegian also had three Qatar wins and one Oman triumph at the beginning of 2015. Kristoff’s compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) retains the race lead.

After a couple of days when the GC contenders took each other’s measure, Thursday’s parcours was better suited to the sprinters, with a profile shaped like a slowly melting chocolate chip.

For the third day in a row, Kenny Dehaes (Belgium/Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was in the breakaway, a quintet that pulled out 2:00 in the first 10-km after the gun at Al Sawadi Beach. The five enjoyed a tailwind while heading into rain. After Dehaes took the first intermediate sprint, the gap, under Dimension Data and Katusha’s steam, dropped back down to 2:00, the race’s average at 43.7-km/h after two hours.

On the long, gradual downhill, the gap increased even with the crosswinds, but once the headwinds began the escape became a trio. A thunderstorm struck up for the final 40-km. The breakaway survived the second intermediate sprint at Al Taww but would succumb to the will of the bunch soon after, with Dutchman Brian Van Goethem (Roompot) the last man standing.

In the final 10-km, the sprinters’ trains set to work slicing and dicing. Once more it was Dimension Data and Katusha at the sharp end of the race, with Kristoff finding the right wheels and lanes at Naseem Park.

Friday is the queen stage, with the big GC skirmish on the Green Mountain summit finish.

2016 Tour of Oman Stage 3
1) Alexander Kristoff (Norway/Katusha) 4:03:22
2) Moreno Hofland (The Netherlands/LottoNL-Jumbo) s.t.
3) Roy Jans (Belgium/Wanty-Groupe Gobert) s.t.
121) Hugo Houle (Canada/AG2R) +3:04

2016 Tour of Oman GC
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway/Dimension Data) 11:52:53
2) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) +0:04
3) Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium/BMC) +0:06
64) Hugo Houle (Canada/AG2R) +5:41