The Italian made sure of keeping his top 10 position with just one day left before the conclusion of the Tour of Oman.
With four categorized climbs, stage 5 (Yiti – Ministry of Tourism, 119.5 km) was the last one which could have seen a reshuffle of the general classification, and that's why many riders went to the attack. But before the last ascent of Bousher Al Amerat, three riders leaped-off from the pack early in the stage and got a 6-minute advantage: Hugo Houle (AG2R), Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Pieter Weening (Roompot Oranje). In the final 40 kilometers, Houle couldn't keep up and was left behind, while from the pack Bob Jungels made a move together with Daniel Oss (BMC), but they didn't get too much space from the peloton led by Astana.
With less than 20 kilometers to go, Romain Bardet (AG2R) tried to put pressure on overall leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), but the Italian reacted immediately and bridged the gap. Still, that attack of the Frenchman disintegrated the bunch, so on the top of the climb only 30-40 riders were still part of the main group. In the end, the winner was decided from a reduced bunch sprint, and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) was the one who outkicked everyone else, getting his second victory in the race, this time ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Marco Canola (UnitedHealthcare).
Among the ones who finished the stage in that group was also Gianluca Brambilla, Etixx – Quick-Step's best positioned rider in the general classification. The Italian was in the thick of the action in the last 500 meters, and managed to come 5th and consolidate his 10th place in the overall standings. Now, he will look to what should be a smooth final stage (The Wave Muscat – Matrah Corniche, 130.5 km) in the saddle, at the end of which he can record his second top 10 in a stage race in the space of just six months, following the 2015 Abu Dhabi Tour.
"Unlike the previous stage, today I felt really good and at one moment, on the last climb, I tried to spark a selection, but it was too difficult, so then I said to myself that it's better to keep a high rhythm and stay with the others. In the run-in to the finish, I knew it was difficult to beat Boasson Hagen, but I was hoping to get a podium place. Unfortunately, it was a crowded sprint, and in the end I came 5th, which isn't a bad result at all", said Gianluca Brambilla after the stage.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele