Team QuickStep-AlphaVinyl Highlighting Their Season Ambitions
QuickStep-AlphaVinyl are starting the early season tours as they mean to go on, with the dominance displayed so far at the Tour of Oman sending a big warning to rest of the WorldTour roster.
Veteran sprinter Mark Cavendish produced a masterful performance last week in stage two to claim his 157th career victory, going one better after finishing second in the opening stage. With just six weeks of on-bike training under his belt since the horror crash in the Ghent Six event which left him with two broken ribs, the 36-year-old continued his late-career resurgence which might indicate his hunger to be included in this year’s Tour de France, where he can become the all-time stage wins record holder.
With the Manxman’s victory kicking things off nicely for QuickStep early on in the tour, Sunday saw another peerless display by the Belgium team. This time, Italian rider Fausto Masnada took the victory with fellow teammate and Swiss youngster Mauro Schmid helping him on his way to the overall GC lead.
Masnada took victory by one minute and seven seconds after attacking on the descent of the final climb and soloing home to the finish outside the giant marble halls of the Muscat Royal Opera. He now leads the GC by a wide margin of 55 seconds.
Schmid had lead for the majority of the 120km stage, but the second climb of the day saw him slip away and Masnada move into a winning position by over a minute when crossing the line, although it was a successful one-two for team QuickStep.
“He is really strong. It’s his first race with the Wolfpack but everybody saw his power. And I think also in the next races he can do well and can get some amazing results with this team,” commented Masnada after the race.
“I thank Mauro my teammate. He was in front all the time and did the perfect job to help me in the final. I arrived on top of the last climb with seven, eight riders and then we took the descent, and I knew that was the critical point to try to attack.
“So, I just with a tried one time and that was my third time to try to attack and then I pushed until the finish line to try to get as much time as possible.”
The stage win is his first since winning at San Giovanni Rotonda at the Giro d’Italia three years ago, and his sixth career victory overall up to this point.
“When you win, it’s always beautiful,” he said. “You realise that dream. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big race or small race, it doesn’t matter. As long as it’s a victory, it’s important for me.
“Of course, I’m here for the GC, the team gave me a possibility, to take my chance in this race. And at this point, I’m the leader.
“So tomorrow is another hard stage,” he added, referring to the challenge of the summit finish at Green Mountain. “We’ll fight to try to win this stage race until the last stage.”