AL MUSANNAH, Oman (AP) — Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins finished in a tie for last in the opening leg of the Tour of Oman on Monday, narrowly avoiding a crash to end up more than 80 seconds beyond stage winner Marcel Kittel.
Kittel, a German riding for Argos-Shimano, finished the 162-kilometer (100.7-mile) stage from Al Musannah to Sultan Qaboos University in 4 hours, 4 minutes, 59 seconds. He beat David Appollonio of AG2R La Mondiale and Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ in a sprint to the line.
"We started the stage today with a good plan, we followed the plan all race, and I felt really confident that we would be able to work it out," Kittel said. "The entire team did such a good job, first in leading the chase during the stage, and then in bringing me to a good position in the finale."
Wiggins was caught behind a crash with 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) remaining and was among five riders who finished 1 minute, 21 seconds behind Kittel. Despite his disappointing showing, Team Sky insisted they remain confident with five stages remaining.
"The main idea today was to save energy and also to get back into the routine of racing after the long travel,"Sky's sports director Nicolas Portal said on the team's website. "Tomorrow I think we will more than likely see another sprint but possibly with different riders."
Alberto Contador, who was stripped of a third Tour de France title for using a banned substance, finished in the main peleton with the same time as Kittel. Another contender, Tom Boonen of Quick Step, also finished with the same time.