Bittersweet day for De Plus
Caught just 100 meters away from the finish, the young Belgian moved up four places in the general classification.
Cycling very much resembles a Agatha Christie novel: no matter what happens during a race, there will always be a twist close to the final that will change the outcome and shift the balance from joy to disappointment and vice versa. Only in his second year as pro, Laurens De Plus got to live that on the third stage of the Tour of Oman (Sultan Qaboos University – Quriyat, 162 kilometers), which concluded with an uphill finish, just like the previous day.
Once the day-long breakaway comprising six riders was clawed back with 15 kilometers to go, teams began fighting for positioning, aware that this factor would be one of the keys to victory on Thursday's stage. The entire Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team did a wonderful job protecting David De La Cruz and Laurens De Plus, and the latter attacked with two kilometers to go, opening almost in an instant a considerable gap.
This audacious move of a rider heralded for a long time as one of the most promising Belgians of the new wave, sparked a response just at the chasers passed under the flamme rouge, and Laurens – despite leaving it all on the road – was caught with 100 meters to go by Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Ben Hermans (BMC), who went on to finish in that order.
"Big thanks to the team for bringing me in a good position. In the final kilometer, I was thinking that it was going to be my first pro victory, but unfortunately the stage was 100 meters too long. I took the risk and attacked from afar, while the others waited for the sprint. I'm sad and it's a real pity to have this outcome, but I will try again and I hope this win will arrive soon", said Laurens De Plus at the end of the stage which took him up to seventh place in the general classification.
David De La Cruz was another Quick-Step Floors rider to conclude the day in the same time with the winner, coming home sixth. As a result, he now lies in fifth position, only 21 seconds adrift, giving the team two cards to play on the Green Mountain, the excruciating climb which is set to reshuffle the overall standings at the Tour of Oman.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele