“I just stayed on the wheels,” explained the UAE-Team Emirates sprinter after the 138.5-kilometre race from Al Sawadi Beach.
“I think it was Astana leading out and I managed to get a good draft, I never took my ass off the saddle. I [was] seated the whole way and I think it was the smart choice because it was so fast.
“The leg speed was what matters and I don’t think it would have been faster if I was standing.”
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Pre-race favourite André Greipel (GER), now riding with French Pro-Continental team Arkéa-Samsic after 10 seasons with WorldTour team Lotto, crossed the line 22nd thanks in large part to a puncture suffered with 10km to go.
Kristoff’s result marks the ninth stage win for the 2018 European Champion, who has competed in all 10 editions of the UCI 2.HC Asia Tour six-day stage race.
“Since 2014, I’ve won every year,” he recounted. “So, I am happy to continue that winning streak in this race.
With the win, the 31-year-old Kristoff dons the red leader’s jersey with a four-second lead over Coquard, as well as the green points jersey. However, with a decade of experience racing in Oman, Kristoff is not optimistic about hanging on to the overall lead.
“I’ve done this race all the years actually and I know that tomorrow every year [I am] dropped,” explained Kristoff, referring to Sunday’s 156.5km stage featuring four categorised climbs. “So, I will be surprised if I make it.”
Astana’s Davide Ballerini, 24, tops the youth classification, while Suisse veteran Michael Schär (CCC), who joins Kristoff in celebrating his 10th start in Oman, was awarded “most aggressive” on the day.
“I have a small competition with Micky Schär,” admitted Kristoff prior to the race. “He’s also been there 10 times. I told him I won’t quit until he does!”
For full stage and race results, click here.
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