Young Dane Anthon Charmig, with an incredible uphill kick, became the leader of Tour of Oman today, taking his first professional victory on the slopes of Qurayyat – a punchy climb of 2.8 km at 7.0%. It was the first test for the climbers in Stage 3 of Tour of Oman, after the opening two stages were contested by the sprinters.
Whilst the action started when the peloton approached Qurayyat, it is worth noting some social media action related to the day’s breakaway. Euskaltel-Euskadi sent Peio Goiogana Goikoetxea into the break once again, perhaps only to troll LR who experienced significant difficulties pronouncing his name in an earlier stage.
Once the breakaway had been caught with around 13km to go, it all became about positioning going into the 3km climb.
It was surprising to see Russian pro-continental team Gazprom – RusVelo pacing at the start of the finish climb, with Arkea, Intermarché and Quickstep having the favourites for the stage. Their best rider of the day ended up being Denis Nekrasov, who finished 9th.
With 2 kilometres to go, Arkea-Samsic set the tempo for their leader Élie Gesbert. 20-year-old Kevin Vauquelin did a great job in reducing the peloton. The rider behind him, the Czech champion from Gazprom, Michael Kukrle, even let his wheel go because he could not stand the pace.
After Vauquelin emptied his tank, multiple attacks started to fly, with no team able to control the front of the group. The first attempt was from UAE Team Emirates and at this moment, stage winner Anthon Charmig was at the back of the group, far away from the attackers. When the group came back together, Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux GC leader Jan Hirt tested everyone’s legs with an attack (you may recall his incredible pull for Louis Meintjies in the Vuelta a Espana last year on the steep Gamoniteiru climb). Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl reacted quickly and marked his move for their leader Fausto Masnada. After a brief moment, Hirt attacked once more when the finish line was close, whilst his Estonian teammate Rein Taaramae tried to maintain contact with the group. This time it looked like he might take the win, but Uno-X 23-year-old climber Anthon Charmig gritted his teeth and in the Froome-style of seated high cadence climbing, chased Hirt at the front of the peloton.
Charmig did not let the gap grow between the group and Hirt but he did not close it fully either. Only when Elie Gesbert attacked did the Dane get out of the saddle, launching a powerful attack past both Gesbert and Hirt with 150 metres to go and taking his first professional victory.
Hirt finished second, with his Intermarché teammate and Vuelta a Espana 2021 stage winner, Rein Taaramäe sixth. Gesbert over-extended when attacking Hirt and ended up third, with it all to play for on GC in the Green Mountain finish later on. Intermarché have three options close on GC, with 20-year-old French Hugo Page crossing the finish line 14th today but only losing seven seconds to Charmig.
Tomorrow Charmig will start in the leaders jersey, with his Uno-X team on absolute fire. In Turkey at the Tour of Antalya Stage 3, a few hours later, their 21-year-old Dane Jacob Hindsgaul Madsen won the mountain stage. It was announced yesterday that Uno-X was not selected in the last Tour de France 2022 wildcard slot, and they have answered in emphatic fashion.
Stage 4 in Oman will again will be a test for climbers, with multiple hard climbs but a flat finish unlike today. It will be extremely difficult for Uno-X to control the peloton given that they have only three riders left, after Niklas Eg did not start stage 3 today. There is a good chance a breakaway might win tomorrow.