Tour of Oman: Froome closing in on first major GC victory of his career
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tour of Oman: Froome closing in on first major GC victory of his career

by VeloNation Press at 12:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Oman
 
Sky rider seizes lead but will face attacks tomorrow

Chris FroomeShowing excellent form in his first race of the season and getting an early edge over his Sky team-mate and potential Tour de France rival Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome is today celebrating taking the race leader’s red jersey in the Tour of Oman.

The British rider was one of eight who moved clear of the rest of the field inside the final three kilometres of the stage to the top of the tough climb of Green Mountain. He was joined by a select group including Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), then finished closest to Rodriguez when he jumped clear to take the win.

Froome crossed the line four seconds back and opened an 18 second gap over Evans, 23 on Contador and 32 on Nibali. He had started the stage thirteenth overall, 36 seconds back, and now takes over the red jersey from the deposed leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling).

“To have guys of the calibre of Bradley Wiggins working for you, it was hard not to be in a good position going into the final climb today,” he said, paying credit to the other Sky riders. “It meant I still had the legs going into the last two kilometres.”

Froome is now 24 seconds clear of Evans and a further second ahead of Contador. Tomorrow’s stage includes three climbs and while none of those are likely to have the same effect as Green Mountain, the fact that several rivals are within striking distance will make it a nervous few hours for the British squad.

Still, Froome sounds upbeat. “There's quite a challenging day ahead of us tomorrow but we've got a great team and we've really come together as a unit here,” he explained. “With a 24-second lead it might be hard to hold on, but it's a great position to be in and a good, promising sign for us this early in the year.”

Wiggins has already said that he will target the Giro d’Italia but has waivered on his earlier statement that Froome will be the designated leader for the Tour de France. The older rider has said more recently that he relishes the idea of trying to achieve the double, which is something that Froome will be nervous about after having the reassurance that he would be the sole leader in the Tour.

Froome is yet to win the overall classification of a major stage race during his career, although he did take the 2.2 Mi-Août Bretonne in 2007.

If he does pull off the final Oman victory on Saturday, he will have a serious confidence boost returning to Europe.

He was second overall behind Wiggins in last year’s Tour and also finished fourth in the Vuelta a España.

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