Rhona Wells & Rosemary Hector report from Muscat exclusively for The Middle East Online . . .
Though only in its fifth edition, the tour of Oman bike race (17-22 February) has managed to attract the world’s top cyclists and teams. The Omani event has become key to the start of the racing season. In 2013 it seemed to set the pace for the rest of the year, with the winner of the Tour of Oman, Chris Froome, going on to win the Tour de France. The varied and rich landscape of the sultanate offers opportunities for all-rounders, climbers and even sprinters to mount the podium. It is now a well-established part of the Middle East biking race season, which includes Tour of Qatar and the recently (2014) created Tour of Dubai.
Eighteen teams of eight riders each from 13 countries (including France, America, UK, Italy) are competing for the €104,330 total prize fund.
Today’s Stage 4 (20 February) started at the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat and will finish at Jebel Al Akhdar (green mountain). The 109km leg of the race includes a 5.7km climb at a 10.5% incline.
Stage 3 of the race was won by Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) who recently came 3rd in the Tour of Qatar (8-13 February). Stage 2 was won by Swiss Fabian Cancellera (Team Trek Factory) and Stage1 by Andrea Guardini (Team Astara).The race will conclude on 22 February on the Muttrah Corniche.