(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) German rider Marcel Kittel saw off some stiff challenge from big names in the circuit to finish on top in the exciting opening stage of the fourth edition of the Tour of Oman on Monday. Kittel, who rides for Team Argos-Shimano, had won two separate stages during the 2012 edition of the championship and has yet again showed his fondness for riding on Omani roads.
Around four hours after the flag-off at noon at the Musannah Sports City, the peloton (group of riders) arrived at the finish line in the Sultan Qaboos University with the 24 year old Kittel leading the way after a 162km journey. The youngster, who grabbed the red jersey for overall lead (general classification) following the first day's action, raised his right hand and thumped his fist in celebration as he dashed to victory. Among the 142 cyclists from 18 teams taking part in the six-day Tour of Oman, there are quite a few top names who Kittel left behind on his first day out.
The list of stars at the 2013 edition includes Bradley Wiggins, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and defending champion Peter Velits. Kittel outpaced Davide Appollonio of AG2 R La Mondiale and Nacer Bouhanni of Team FDJ to clinch the leader's jersey. An early breakaway from Bobbie Traksel of Champion System and Kohei Uchima of the Japan team stayed ahead for much of the day.
The pair stretched their lead over the rest of the pack to an impressive nine minutes at one stage. However, the sprinters' teams moved ahead swiftly and closed the gap on the runaway duo. First Traksel was caught a n d then Uchima in the final 15km stretch, while Kittel made the star turn, deftly grabbing the lead and holding on to it till the end.
Meanwhile, Traksel won the King of the Mountains jersey for his efforts during the climb phase of the day's racing, staying at overall third behind Kittel and second-placed Appollonio. In stage two on Tuesday, the riders will be seen snaking along the 146km route from Fanja to the Al Bustan roundabout.