Tour of Oman – Stage 5 – Mathias Frank «Today the conditions really were too extreme»

21 February 2015

IAM Cycling

Tour of Oman 2015

The sand, wind, and heat won the day on Saturday, on a 151 kilometer route that lead the riders from Al Sawadi Beach to the Ministry of Housing.  The fifth stage of the Tour of Oman eventually was not run due to the safety concerns for the riders.  Initially, a violent sandstorm led officials to move the start to Al Wazarat where the riders would make three laps around a circuit of approximately 20 very hilly kilometers.  As soon as the starting whistle sounded, many tires began exploding due to the excessive on-the-road heat and the friction caused by the brake pads on the rims.

Tour of Oman 2015

The riders then stopped and requested that the stage be cancelled.  After long discussions, the UCI and Eddy Merckx, the event organizer with the help of the ASO, reached an agreement with the riders.  The decision was taken to neutralize the race, and the peloton reached the finish with an official escort.  On the eve of the final stage, which will likely fall to the sprinters, the current race leader, Rafael Valls (Lampre Merida) will have little resistance against preserving his red jersey at the top of the general classification.

Tour of Oman 2015

When discussing the events of the day, Mathias Frank was pleased with the solidarity of the riders to limit the risks that they would take on the descents. 

“I am in 100% agreement with the decision to cancel the 5th stage, even if it is not really great for the organizers or the racers.  We came here to race and prepare for future events.  Unfortunately today, the conditions really were just too extreme.  My SRM meter showed the temperature to be 49° when we finally dismounted.  And I also hit 90 km/h as the maximum speed on the descent.  If we were really racing and with the wind at our backs, we certainly would have been hitting 120km/h.  It was dangerous and could have sent any one of us to the hospital without warning.  Honestly, I am glad to see that there is a solidarity among the cyclists.  This is the first time that we have successfully done this, even if the organizers threatened to annul the final stage, as well as future editions, as a result of our refusal to continue racing.”  

Tour of Oman 2015

Directeur sportif for IAM Cycling, Eddy Seigneur, also commented that this was a day like no other. 

“Just before the start of the stage, the wind picked up and a sandstorm forced the organizers to move the stage to the final circuit.  The decision was made that we would do at least three and a half laps on that circuit.  At the start, the discussion continued among all parties.  And on the descent of the suggested parcours, no fewer than five riders of the Bardiani team punctured simultaneously, with more flat tires quickly following.  Adding to the outside heat, the friction of the brakes against the rims burst the tires.  Negotiations then continued among Eddy Merckx, the organizer of the event along with logistical aid from the ASO, the president of the jury of Commissioners of the UCI, and the riders.  Finally the decision to neutralize and thus cancel the stage was made.  Honestly, it was wise in view of the risks involved, and in this instance the riders’ safety prevailed.”