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Gaviria and Richeze back to winning ways at the Tour of Oman

Fernando Gaviria celebrates his first win of 2022
(Image credit: Getty)

Fernando Gaviria and Max Richeze resumed their winning sprint partnership on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman on Thursday as the UAE Team Emirates duo delivered the Colombian's first victory of the 2022 season in Muscat.

Gaviria, who won one race last year and has struggled in recent seasons with injuries and COVID-19 infections, outpaced Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco) for the win on the windy uphill finish at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, taking the race lead in the process.

The victory marked the latest in a long line of successes Gaviria has scored with Richeze as his lead out man, a partnership which dates back to his neo-pro season with QuickStep in 2016. After the race, Gaviria was effusive in his praise for the Argentinian veteran.

"More than half of the victory is for Max," he told the assembled press before the post-race podium ceremony.

"I'm really appreciative for my team. In the last part Max took control of the lead out and he had complete 100 per cent control for the move. Every moment, every pedal stroke, I don't lose metres, and then in the last part it was full gas, and it really made the difference for victory today."

The final sprint to the line at the end of the 138-kilometre opener was affected by a bracing wind which saw riders hug the right-hand side of the road as they sprinted to the line, Richeze having taken over on the front from Groupama-FDJ and BikeExchange-Jayco before letting Gaviria sprint.

"We were to the right," Gaviria said. "It's a difficult sprint because of the small uphill. Right after the corner it's full pain for the legs, and then after that you need to do the sprint. It's like one kilometre you need to do the maximum. I had good legs today and I'm really happy to take victory here.

"It's really good for all the team because we were like a team and in the end everybody gave something for the sprint."

Richeze, who is set to end his 17-year career at the Giro d'Italia, said that the win is an important one for Gaviria's morale, having started the season with a podium place but no victories at the Saudi Tour.

"We needed that for what they say the morale. I hope this is the first of more victories," he said. "Fernando and I are friends. We know when he has confidence in me and me in him too. We moved perfectly in the group and so for him and me I think it's good for the morale for the rest of the race."

The six-day race is set to throw up two more possible opportunities for Gaviria to add to his win tally, starting with Friday's second stage up the coast to the Suhar Corniche. It's a day that could be affected by crosswinds, with Richeze saying that the team also has a plan B if Gaviria isn't at the front for the finish.

"We'll try in the next stage, the next sprint. We have two chances, maybe. Tomorrow I think we'll be arriving in a small group. We'll try to do the race with Fernando. Maybe it will be with Ryan Gibbons."

 

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.