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Crash sets Robbie back

Robbie Hunter dropped in more ways than one in the inaugural Tour of Oman cycle race.

As far as the overall picture goes he lost one position in the general classification on Thursday but remains right up there for Friday’s sixth and final stage.

The South African rider again finished in the main bunch as Belgium’s Tom Boonen took line honours, the Quick Step sprinter covering the 148km fifth stage between Wattayat and the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in 3hr 23min 52sec.

But his day was marred by a crash. “It was a stupid crash. Some kid walked into the road to have a look with his bike. To miss him I had the bike sideways,” said Hunter after the race.

“Lucky I’m not banged up too bad, just came down on the hip so that seized up for the rest of the stage and I had nothing to give in the final which was pity!

“It’s amazing how a small crash can just mess you up. Yesterday I had all the power in the kick, today with one leg I couldn’t even get out my own way!”

Early Friday Hunter was still feeling the after-effects. “Feeling a bit beaten today. I’m still hurting from the crash and am going for a ride in a bit, hopefully that loosens it all up.”

Liquigas’ Daniele Bennati ended seventh on the day but the Italian still retained the overall race lead.
Boonen moved up to second, at two seconds down, but was just happy to have won a tough sprint. “It might not have been the fastest sprint but it was the most hectic of the last two weeks, so I’m pretty satisfied,” he told Cyclingnews.

Hunter was 38th in the stage and now lies 15th overall, still 16sec down on Bennati (15hr 36min 21sec). Hunter’s Garmin-Transitions teammate Tyler Farrar is third in the GC, six seconds behind.

The Garmin-Transitions team is still second on the team rankings, behind Team Saxo Bank.

Just 16 seconds cover the top 26 riders so it will certainly come down to Friday’s 18.5 time trial to decide the inaugural winner of the tour.

It should make for a good day’s racing with the sprinters’ normal edge in a trial like this being reined in by some tough early climbs. One thing is for sure, there will be no surprises in store on the route as the time trial takes place on the sole road to the luxury hotel where the riders have stayed all week.