Season-delayed Boonen ‘happy to compete again’ in Oman, Velits gunning to defend last year’s race victory
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Friday, February 8, 2013

Season-delayed Boonen ‘happy to compete again’ in Oman, Velits gunning to defend last year’s race victory

by VeloNation Press at 1:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Oman
Duo are top names in Omega Pharma Quick Step line-up for prestigious race

Tom BoonenDefending champion Peter Velits and former stage winner Tom Boonen have both been confirmed for the Omega Pharma Quick Step team for the Tour of Oman, which begins in Al Musannah in three days’ time.

Velits is looking forward to the chance to defend his title, and believes that the route could once again play into his favour.

“Last year this race gave me the first victory as a professional in a stage race,” he stated. “It's a moment I will never forget. As for this year, it will be similar to last year's parcours. The uphill finishing stage will be more or less the same, and the fight for the win will be that day.”

Velits has already been in action this year, placing 22nd overall in the Santos Tour Down Under. He has continued to work on his form since then and will be in better shape starting the race on Monday.

As for Boonen, the Classics specialist is making a long overdue start to his season, with his planned participation in the Tour de San Luis and the Tour of Qatar both scuppered due to a mountainbike crash last month which left him with an infected elbow.

He has just completed a training camp with many of his Omega Pharma Quick Step team-mates in Majorca and is eager to get into action.

“I'm happy to compete again,” he said. “This race will be important for me to get again into the rhythm and to see the status of my condition. I take it as an important step prior to the Classics.”

Last year Boonen had a stunning early season, winning a host of races including the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. While his season debut has been delayed by several weeks, he is still hoping to be able to reach peak shape in time. If he can do so, and if he can triumph again in the Roubaix velodrome, he will become the outright record holder in the race with five victories.

His team is currently on a roll after Mark Cavendish won four stages plus the overall in the Tour of Qatar. Boonen and Velits will be backed by Gianni Meersman (Belgium), Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic), Niki Terpstra (Netherlands), Matteo Trentin (Italy), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Belgium) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Belgium).

The 2.HC Tour of Oman totals 938.5 kilometres this year and will play out over six stages. The first of those is 162 kilometres between Al Musannah and Sultan Qaboos University, while the decisive stage is likely to be stage four to the summit of Jabal Al Akhdhar, or Green Mountain.

Omega Pharma Quick Step for Tour of Oman (2.HC)

Tom Boonen (Beglium)
Gianni Meersman (Belgium)
Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)
Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)
Matteo Trentin (Italy)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Belgium)
Stijn Vandenbergh (Belgium)
Peter Velits (Slovakia)

Stage 1, Feb 11: Al Musannah - Sultan Qaboos University, 162 km
Stage 2, Feb 12: Fanja in Bidbid - Al Bustan, 146 km
Stage 3, Feb 13: Nakhal Fort - Wadi Dayqah Dam, 190 km
Stage 4, Feb 14: Al Saltiyah in Samail - Jabal Al Akhdhar, 152.5 km
Stage 5, Feb 15: Al Alam Palace - Ministry of Housing in Boshar, 144 km
Stage 6, Feb 16: Hawit Nagam Park - Matrah Corniche, 144 km


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