Adam Yates Wins Tour of Oman with Dominant Climb

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

While youth had a major impact on this year’s five-stage Tour of Oman, which ended Wednesday, road racing’s Old Guard held up very well, with 31-year-old Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) winning the GC with a blistering ride on the race’s final climb and 29-year-old Caleb Ewan (Jayco-AlUla) confirming his return to form from a disappointing 2023 with a victory on stage 1.

Now, 29 is not old for a road racer, but it is nearing seniority for a sprinter, and it is old when you compare it with 19, which is the age of stage 3 sprint winner Paul Magnier, who looks to be an exciting addition to Soudal-QuickStep’s stable of stage hunters. It is also old when compared to the 22 years of Yates’s teammate Finn Fisher-Black, who won stage 2 with a brilliant burst of speed to the summit of Qurayyat (2.7km @ 6.7%), beating Magnier’s 21-year-old Soudal teammate Luke Lamperti by 2 seconds. Fisher-Black also won both the youth classification and the green jersey and finished third in the GC, 39 seconds behind his senior teammate.

The race was always going to be decided on that final climb to the summit of Jabal al Akhdhar, the “Green Mountain” (5,8km at a formidable average gradient of 10.1%), and Yates proved that there was still lots of life left in those legs as he gave no one else the hint of a chance. The closest to him at the finish line was the 33-year-old Czech Jan Hirt (Soudal-QuickStep), who finished 11 seconds adrift. The young Fisher-Black finished sixth in the stage, at 44 seconds. Hirt also finished second in the GC, 19 seconds behind Yates, while Fisher-Black was third, trailing the winner by 39 seconds.

Though inclement weather forced organizers to shorten the final stage from 139 to 72km, it was far from short of drama. A four-rider breakaway formed after about 20km and took a decent lead to the foot of Jabal al Akhdhar. Shortly after they began the ascent, 21-year-old Huub Artz (Intermarché-Wanty) broke away and soon found himself alone on the mountain and looking good for a famous victory. But not for long. Yates took over at the head of the peloton and climbed at such a tempo that riders dropped off one by one. It looked as if he were riding for teammate Fisher-Black, who had led the GC standings since his stage 2 win. But that was never in his thoughts, because when Hirt took off from the peloton, Yates chased him down and the two rode together, catching and passing Artz, until the long final curve, where Yates made his irresistible winning move, to which the Czech had no answer.

There is a long way to go, but it looks as if Yates is already in fine form and will be indispensable to Tadej Pogačar’s quest to reclaim his Tour de France yellow jersey, which Visma–Lease a Bike’s Jonas Vingegaard has worn for the last two years. But Yates also has ambitions of his own this year, notably trying to win the Vuelta. In Oman, he recently told journalists, “[In the Tour de France] I am going there to be the last man for Tadej in the mountains, and it worked well last year. For me in the Tour I’ll have a similar job [this year], and maybe later in the year, if I come out of the Tour quite fresh I can do the Vuelta myself. We’ll see, it’s a long way from February. Let’s get the first part of the season first, hopefully I can get a win and see how it pans out.”

Well, Yates has his win. But the big challenges still lie ahead.

  1. Adam Yates, UAE Team Emirates 14:22:30
  2. Jan Hirt, Soudal-QuickStep 0:19
  3. Finn Fisher-Black, UAE Team Emirates 0:39
  4. Diego Ulissi, UAE Team Emirates 0:44
  5. Cristián Rodríguez, Arkéa-B&B Hotels     0:54