Oman, The Place To Be


© Presse Sports

Most of the riders who will light the fireworks this season are coming to the fifth edition of the Tour of Oman (February 18-23) to open hostilities and see where each of them stands. Will Chris Froome be able to extend his domination of the peloton?

The way cyclists prepare for a new season varies with time, their characteristics and their goals. A clear trend is emerging as taking part in the Tour of Oman becomes a must for the favourites to win the Tour de France —with the same rider prevailing in both races last year. It was in Muscat that Chris Froome started to build up the momentum that would eventually propel him to the top of the 100th edition of the Tour. Hoping to repeat the feat, Team Sky's leader is once again kicking off his season in the Sultanate, where the competition will be just as stiff as in 2013 as he tries to mount a successful title defence. Froome will come up against all his predecessors in the race's honour roll (Fabian Cancellara, Robert Gesink and Peter Velits), as well as Joaquim Rodríguez, who escorted him on the Tour podium in July. The maglia rosa of last year's Giro d'Italia, Vincenzo Nibali, will also be there as he shifts his focus to the Grande Boucle, as will Czech Roman Kreuziger (fifth in the 2013 Tour).
Although the main course of the Tour of Oman will be the clash of these titans, the six stages on the menu will also provide an opportunity for last year's flops to make amends. Now free of his shackles as a domestique to Chris Froome, Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Rigoberto Urán will seek to exact revenge on his former leader. Tejay Van Garderen needs to get off to a flying start if he is to become the official boss of the BMC squad, while Jurgen Van den Broeck and Thibaut Pinot will try to shake off the memories of not finishing the Tour de France with a solid performance. All eyes will be trained on Andy Schleck on the climb up Jebel Akhdar, as fans wonder whether the Luxembourger can return to his former glory. The Green Mountain could also be a launch pad for Romain Bardet (best French rider of the 2013 Tour), who is sharing leadership duties at Ag2r with Domenico Pozzovivo. The star-studded field guarantees there will be no such thing as a boring day in the Tour of Oman, with stage hunters such as Peter Sagan, André Greipel, Tom Boonen, Nacer Bouhanni, Philippe Gilbert, Dani Moreno, Tony Gallopin, Lieuwe Westra, Christophe Riblon… Some will have to go home empty-handed!
18 teams: main contenders
ORICA GreenEDGE: Impey (RSA) and Albasini (SUI)
Lotto-Belisol: Van den Broeck (BEL), Gallopin (FRA) and Greipel (GER)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step Cycling Team: Boonen (BEL), Štybar (CZE) and Urán (COL)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise: Van Staeyen and Wallays (BEL)
Ag2r-La Mondiale: Pozzovivo (ITA), Bardet and Riblon (FRA) : Pinot, Elissonde and Bouhanni (FRA)
Team NetApp – Endura: König (CZE) and Bennett (IRL)
Great Britain
Team Sky: Froome (GBR), Henao (COL) and Nieve (ESP)
Cannondale: Sagan (SVK) and Moser (ITA)
Bardiani CSF: Canola and Battaglin (ITA)
Astana Pro Team: Nibali (ITA), Iglinskiy (KAZ) and Westra (NET)
Belkin Pro Cycling: Gesink, Boom and Tjallingii (NET)
Team Katusha: Rodríguez, Moreno (ESP) and Kristoff (NOR)
Tinkoff-Saxo: Kreuziger (CZE) and Roche (IRL)
IAM Cycling: Tschopp, Elmiger (SUI) and Haussler (AUS)
United States
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Gilbert (BEL), Van Garderen (USA) and Velits (SVK)
Trek Factory Racing: Cancellara (SUI), A. Schleck and F. Schleck (LUX)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team: Förster (GER) and Maaskant (NED)

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Jersey wearers after the stage 6

Classifications after the stage 6


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