Tour of Oman preview: the Middle East adventure continues with a hillier parcours
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tour of Oman preview: the Middle East adventure continues with a hillier parcours

by Ben Atkins at 6:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Oman
Climbers, all-rounders, and Grand Tour contenders join the sprinters as Oman’s mountains provide a different challenge

tour of omanWith the men’s Tour of Qatar yet to start, the Middle East is already gearing up for the neighbouring, hillier, Tour of Oman, which runs from February 14th and 19th. The third edition of the Sultanate race will feature the same mix of ProTeams, Professional Continental teams, and Asian Continental teams as those invited to Qatar but, with the more challenging parcours, many will undergo a personnel change to be competitive.

Where the flat, exposed roads of Qatar generally lead to a sprinter taking overall victory, the mountainous hinterland of Oman means that the race is far more suited to all-rounders; the first edition of the race, in 2010, was won by Fabian Cancellara (then Saxo Bank, now RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), while Robert Gesink (Rabobank) triumphed last year.

The mostly flat profile of stages one, two, three and six will be more than enough to keep the sprinters happy; meaning that the likes of World champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky), Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda), Matt Goss (GreenEDGE), Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i), Denis Galymzianov (Katusha) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) will continue their Middle East adventure; André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), the outstanding sprinter of the season so far, will hopefully have recovered from the stomach problem that has forced him to sit out Qatar, and we will be treated to the expected showdown with Cavendish.

The promise of some hills on stages four and five though – especially the 5.7km of steep gradients of up to 10.5% to the summit finish to Green Mountain on stage five – means that riders like Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Barracuda), Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ-BigMat), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), and even Grand Tour contenders Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) will make the journey east.

With an individual time trial in Qatar for the first time, there will not be a stage against the clock in Oman this year. This stage had been instrumental in the final result of the two previous editions – particularly Cancellara’s in 2010 – and so the 2012 winner will have to make the difference in the climbs instead.

Tour of Oman (2.HC)

Invited teams, with star riders

BMC Racing Team (BMC): Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Taylor Phinney (Usa)
FDJ-BigMat (FDJ): Sandy Casar, Arnold Jeannesson (Fra)
Garmin-Barracuda (GRM): Tyler Farrar, Christian Vande Velde (USA), Millar (GB)
GreenEdge Cycling Team (GEC): Baden Cooke, Matt Goss (Aus)
Katusha Team (KAT): Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa), Denis Galimzyanov (Rus)
Liquigas-Cannondale (LIQ): Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Peter Sagan (Svq)
Lotto-Belisol Team (LTB): André Greipel (Ger), Greg Henderson (NZ)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Tom Boonen (Bel), Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)
Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB): Maarten Tjallingii (Hol)
Radioshack-Nissan (RNT): Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Andy Schleck (Lux)
Sky Procycling (SKY): Mark Cavendish (GB), Bernhard Eisel (Aut)

Professional Continental teams:
Champion System (CSS): William Clarke (Aus)
Farnese Vini-Selle Italia (FAR): Kevin Hulsmans (Bel)
Project 1t4i (PRO): Marcel Kittel (Ger)

Continental teams (Asia Tour):
Bridgestone Anchor (BGT): Miyataka Shimizu (Jap)
RTS Racing Team (RTS): David McCann (Irl)

The Route:
Stage 1, Tuesday 14th February: Al Alam Palace – Wadi Al Huwqayn (159km)
Stage 2, Wednesday 15th February: Sur – Wadi Dayqah Dam (140.5km)
Stage 3, Thursday 16th February: Al Awabi (Al Alya) – Bank Muscat HQ (144.5km)
Stage 4, Friday 17th February: Bidbid (Nafa’a) – Al Wadi al Kabir (142.5km)
Stage 5, Saturday 18th February: Royal Opera House – Jabal Al Akhdhar / Green Mountain (158km)
Stage 6, Sunday 19th February: Al Khawd – Matrah Corniche (130.5km)


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