Warlop impresses on Soudal Quick-Step debut
A late replacement for our team in Oman, where he travelled after illness forced James Knox to skip the two races there, Jordi Warlop came close to his first victory for the team at the inaugural edition of the Muscat Classic (173.7km), an appetizer for the five-day Tour of Oman, which is due to start this weekend.
Comprising six climbs, the last of which – Al Jissah – came in the final five kilometers and featured some nasty double-digit gradients, Friday’s race witnessed one of the biggest gaps a breakaway has enjoyed in recent memory, lone leader Manabu Ishibashi (JLC Team Ukyo) putting a staggering 17 minutes between him and the peloton.
Soudal Quick-Step was one of the three teams to take the reins at the head of the group, steadily eating into that advantage, which was halved with 80 kilometers to go. One hour later, the bunch was again as one, but only for a brief moment, as attacks started coming thick and fast on the succession of hills stacked in the last 20 kilometers.
Mauri Vansevenant was one of the most active riders, booking a place in a 12-man move that zipped away over the top of the penultimate ascent, but a lack of collaboration between the leaders allowed the chasers to come back. Despite some accelerations on the viciously steep gradients of Al Jissah, nobody could make the difference, so the race ended up being decided in a 25-man sprint, which saw Jordi Warlop take second, just behind Jenthe Biermans (Arkea Samsic).
“I knew that if I make it over the last climb, then a top 10 was possible, but this result exceeds my expectations, so I’m very happy”, said Jordi, who came across from the Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team, which he joined only a few months ago. “Last year, I crashed hard at the National Championships in June, and I had to stay in bed for six weeks. I recovered and returned, had a good training camp, but then the news about B&B came and I had to search for a team. Luckily, I could join the Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team, a chance for which I am very grateful. I hope that today is just the beginning and good results will continue to come.”
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