The Desert Race
2019 marked our second year as official racewear partner for the Tour of Oman. Our partnership started last year and although it’s a relatively ‘young’ race compared to other events on the World Tour calendar, it attracts some big riders who are preparing for the classics, so it was a no-brainer for us to continue this year.
As official racewear provider our role is to design and create the leaders’ jerseys across the classifications, red for the general classification, green for points, white for best young rider and gold for most aggressive rider. The subtle pattern we developed on the jerseys is inspired by Middle Eastern architecture and the movement of sand across the desert landscape, more about that here.
For a stage race like this, we supply approx 120 jerseys in various sizes for the classification riders, race publicity and partners. As with all our kit, it is designed in London, then handmade in Europe, before it is shipped to the ASO in time for the race. The sponsor area is left blank, with an on-site printer Fabrice transferring the relevant logos and teams in the back of his van at the end of each stage.
How the race unfolded
Although the race is currently untelevised, GCN were running a daily highlights package and we had access to daily photos from the official photographers. Take a look at our Instagram to see some of the best shots.
As some in the office predicated (well done Sullivan), the big sprinter from Norway Alexander Kristoff took the first stage ahead of the French duo of Brian Coquard and Nacer Bouhanni and was the first rider repping the Milltag logo on the red leader’s jersey.
The Norwegian came close to doubling up on stage two, but had to settle for second after Alexey Lutsenko powered away from the field on the climb of Al Jissah and crossed the line solo. Kristoff picked up bonus seconds that kept him in the red jersey. Stage 3 was a day of crosswinds, which saw the leader’s jersey change hands after another dominant display by ex-U23 World Champion, Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko.
The Green Mountain, Al Jabal Al Akhdar, has featured in the Tour for the last eight years and is rightly considered the ‘Queen Stage’ where the race is decided. On a scorching hot day a breakaway stayed out for most of the day, before being gradually being reduced by the pack to just a single rider, Frenchman Fabien Grellier, who suffered heartbreak as Lutsenko stormed past him in the closing hundred metres to make it three wins in three days.
The final stage brought a flat 152 km route along the coast with a finish in Muscat built for the sprinters. Kristoff unfortunately had to abandon part-way through the stage due to a heavy crash that left him needing stitches, leaving the final wide open to a trio of Italians, with Giacomo Nizzolo taking a closely fought sprint ahead of Sonny Colbrelli and Davide Ballerini. Heal up soon, Alexander!
The final classification saw Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) finish in the red leaders jersey, as well as wrapping up the points competition to take the green jersey ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain–Merida). French rider Élie Gesbert (Arkéa–Samsic) took the white jersey for best young rider, and gold jersey for most combative fell to the veteran Belgian rider Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen–Baloise).
Huge thanks to the lovely people of Oman for once again making us very welcome and to the riders, teams and the ASO for making our work look so good. Let's do it again next year.