Spain’s Rafael Valls won Thursday’s tough Tour of Oman fourth stage with a summit finish on the Green Mountain to take the overall lead.
American Tejay Van Garderen came home second 5sec adrift with Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, at 19sec, completing the podium.
Van Garderen, who finished second overall last year behind Britain’s Chris Froome and second on the same stage in 2014, held on to the wheel of Valls until the final bend before fading into the runners-up spot.
Polish rider Rafal Majka, the best climber on last year’s Tour de France, came home fourth on the day at 22sec with Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, third place finisher on the 2014 Tour, completing the top five at 35sec.
— Tour of Oman (@tourofoman) February 20, 2015
A final group of Valls, Van Garderen, Valverde, Majka, Pinot, Rui Costa and Roman Kreuziger attacked the brutal 5.7km climb grouped together before the Spaniard eventually left his rivals for dead with a relentless burst from the front.
Tour de France champion Vincent Nibali had a difficult day and lost 2min 27sec while Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez lost 5min 25sec on the day.
“There were some riders who were better prepared for today’s stage,” said Nibali. “I am not yet in top condition and Oman is not a priority race for me.”
Saturday’s stage features a 151.5km ride between Al Sawadi Beach and the Ministry of Housing over a rolling route that could once again shake up the overall rankings.
The race finishes on Sunday with a 133.5km run from Oman Air to Muttrah Promenade.
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