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Cycling news - Two straight wins for new race leader Alexey Lutsenko

Two straight wins for new race leader Lutsenko

19/02/2019 at 03:09Updated 19/02/2019 at 03:10

Defending champion Alexey Lutsenko took ownership of the red jersey following back-to-back stage wins at Tour of Oman.

After 192.5 kilometres, the longest stage of the six-day UCI 2.HC Asia Tour road race culminated on Monday following two passes over the hilltop finish in Qurayyat with last year’s champion and Stage 2 winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) claiming his second-straight stage win in just his third start of the season.

The 26-year-old Kazakh bested a very select group to win Stage 3, including Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Greg van Avermaet (CCC) and Rui Costa (UAE), who all finished in order one second behind Lutsenko.

“I’m feeling very strong after the training camp on Tenerife with the team, so I want to thank all my trainers that pushed me during this camp. It’s a great period for our team, with so many great results in a short time. Of course, I hope I can win the overall race again, but there are still many hard days to come.”

Aside from Lutsenko’s standout showing, another bright spot in the Arabian desert continues to be the performance of Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data). The 24-year-old South African is enjoying a solid start to the season as well, which is reminiscent to his Le Tour de Langkawi-winning form from 2017.

With a third-place result in the youth classification at the Tour Down Under (2.UWT), followed by a fourth-place finish at Cadel’s Race (1.UWT) and a silver medal at the national road race championships, Gibbons currently finds himself donning the ‘best young rider’ jersey thanks in part to a third-place podium on Stage 2 and a 10th today.

Alexey Lutsenko

Alexey LutsenkoGetty Images

“It was quite windy, even about 15k before on the first time up the climb, the race split apart,” explained Gibbons, who finished 11-seconds adrift of Lutsenko. “Super stressful, super hard, First time up was tough, second time tougher.

“Glad to get it under the belt.”

Gibbons drops from third to seventh on general classification (+0:30), and despite Australian teammate and GC hopeful Ben O’Connor withdrawing prior to the stage due illness, Gibbons says Dimension Data will push forward with himself in the hunt for a stage win on Tuesday and fellow countryman Jacques Janse van Rensburg setting sights on GC.

“Very unfortunate to lose Ben O’Connor,” said Gibbons. “Tomorrow is another opportunity for me, then Green Mountain is probably just a stretch too far. But we’ve got Jacques Janse van Rensburg, he did a lot of work today in the final and looking really good. He’s always been pretty competitive here. I think he finished fifth in the past, so we will ride for him for the GC, and who knows.

“I am still in the white jersey and hopefully will be tomorrow as well,” he continued. “So maybe try to keep it all the way, but definitely our GC aspirations will go over to Jacques.”

Janse van Rensburg finished 11th on the day, four seconds behind Gibbons, and is currently 11th overall, 38 seconds down on Lutsenko, who holds an 18-second advantage over Herrada. Olympic champion van Avermaet is third (+0:20), followed by Costa (+0:24) and Pozzovivo (+0:27).

The race resumes on Tuesday with a 131km sprint stage before returning to the hills in what should be the decisive penultimate stage on Thursday.