After coming close several times in the first four stages, today Tom Boonen made his mark in the 5th stage of the Tour of Oman, from Wattayat to Sultan Qaboos Stadium (148 km), beating Juan JosŤ Haedo (Team Saxo Bank) and Michael Van Staeyen (Team Top Sport Vlaanderen) in the sprint.
This is the third season victory for the Belgian champion, and the first of his career at Oman.
"It wasn't an easy sprint - explains Tom Boonen-. I was only able to pass Haedo in the last 30-40 meters. I want to share this victory with all the guys on the team. This morning I asked my team mates to race and work together, and every one of them, especially in the final, performed his job perfectly. Our fitness is in a crescendo and I'm very happy with the way I've been feeling and the work we've done these last few days. Tomorrow the race will wrap up with a time trial. During the winter I've been training specifically for the time trial, but tomorrow won't be your average time trial; we'll all be riding normal bikes and the route is quite challenging. I'll be riding without any pressure because I'm starting with no ambitions to classify."
Boonen then reflected on the up-coming races, particularly the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the race which opens the Belgian calendar.
"Next week I'm going to try to recuperate as best I can after these two weeks of intense work -continues Boonen-. This is why I won't be participating in the traditional team reconnaissance ride on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad course that's scheduled for Tuesday. I'd rather get my strength back 100% and do a couple of good training sessions. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a race I love a lot and which I've never been able to win for a series of different reasons. Next Saturday I'd like to try again."
In the general standings with one stage to go until the end, Italian Daniele Bennati (Team Liquigas) remains in the lead. Tom Boonen is in second place.