Having already taken a victory at the Tour of Oman via Mark Cavendish's sprint win on stage 2, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl put in a peerless display on the hilly fourth stage on Sunday, delivering a one-two courtesy of Fausto Masnada and Mauro Schmid in Muscat.
Masnada took victory by 1:07 after attacking on the descent of the final climb and soloing home to the finish outside the giant marble halls of the Muscat Royal Opera. He now leads the GC by a wide margin of 55 seconds with two days of racing to go.
The Italian's sixth career victory came after a short and chaotic day of racing in the hills to the south of Muscat, which had earlier seen Schmid slip away at the front on the second climb of the day, just 38 kilometres into the 119.5-kilometre stage after Team DSM had brought back the breakaway early.
Schmid had told Cyclingnews in the morning that the day was "a good chance to win the stage and gain some GC time", though the Swiss youngster underestimated quite how much Masnada would gain, with reports of a touch-and-go 25-second gap on the run-in ballooning to over a minute at the line.
"I thank Mauro my teammate," Masnada said after the stage. "He was in front all the time and did the perfect job to help me in the final. I arrived on top of the last climb with seven, eight riders and then we took the descent, and I knew that was the critical point to try to attack.
"So, I just with a tried one time and that was my third time to try to attack and then I pushed until the finish line to try to get as much time as possible."
Following Schmid's foray out front, he hung up ahead of the peloton before being joined by a small group of riders, including Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM). He said that the aim of the move was for him to stay out front until the middle of the three closing climbs, which took the riders back and forth over Al Jabal Street, overlooking south Muscat.
"Basically I waited until some guys joined me and then the other guys came and we weren't really riding together so good," Schmid said. "So, we just tried to keep riding, and for me it was just a goal to survive like at least the second climb in front.
"Then the goal was to make it really hard second time up the climb because that forced the peloton to chase harder to get rid of some guys. That was basically to bring Fausto in a good position and then I could hang on and they were not riding together at the back so, I managed to stay in front until the third time on top of the mountain."
Masnada was grateful to his teammate after the stage, noting that there's plenty more to comes from the 22-year-old Giro d'Italia stage winner who sprinted to second from the chase group.
"He is really strong. It's his first race with the Wolfpack but everybody saw his power. And I think also in the next races he can do well and can get some amazing results with this team."
Masnada wrests the jersey from Uno-X rider Anthon Charmig, who took red after winning Saturday's stage to Qurayyat. The stage win is his first since winning at San Giovanni Rotonda at the Giro d'Italia three years ago, and even though it came at a smaller race like Oman, Masnada savoured it all the same.
"When you win, it's always beautiful," he said. "You realise that dream. It doesn't matter if it's a big race or small race, it doesn't matter. As long as it's a victory, it's important for me.
"Of course, I'm here for the GC, the team gave me a possibility, to take my chance in this race. And at this point, I'm the leader.
"So tomorrow is another hard stage," he added, referring to the challenge of the summit finish at Green Mountain. "We'll fight to try to win this stage race until the last stage."
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Daniel Ostanek is Senior News Writer at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired full-time. Prior to joining the team, he had written for numerous major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also oversees The Leadout newsletter and How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal.