Tour of Oman 2016 starts from February 16, 2016 and ends on
February 21, 2016.
The following teams have been selected to take part in the 80th Flèche Wallonne (Wednesday, April 20) and the 102nd Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Sunday, April 24) :
In accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale rules, the following eighteen UCI WorldTeams are automatically invited to those two races:
In addition to these eighteen teams, the organisers have awarded the following wildcards:
LA FLECHE WALLONNE 2016
25 teams have been selected for the 19th Flèche Wallonne Femmes (Wednesday, April 20) :
Australia : ORICA – AIS ; SELECTION NATIONALE AUSTRALIENNE
Belgium : LARES-WAOWDEALS WOMEN CYCLING TEAM ; LENSWORLD-ZANNATA ; LOTTO SOUDAL LADIES ; TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN - ETIXX
France : POITOU-CHARENTES FUTUROSCOPE 86 ; SELECTION NATIONALE FRANCAISE
Germany : CANYON SRAM RACING ; CERVELO BIGLA PRO CYCLING TEAM
Italy : ALE CIPOLLINI ; BEPINK ; INPA – BIANCHI ; SERVETTO FOOTON
Kazakhstan: ASTANA WOMEN'S TEAM
Netherlands : BOELS DOLMANS CYCLING TEAM ; PARKHOTEL VALKENBURG CONTINENTAL TEAM ; RABOLIV WOMEN CYCLING TEAM ; TEAM LIV-PLANTUR
Norway : HITEC PRODUCTS
Slovenia : BTC CITY LJUBLJANA
Spain : BIZKAIA - DURANGO
United Kingdom : WIGGLE HIGH5
United States : CYLANCE PRO CYCLING ; TEAM TIBCO - SILICON VALLEY BANK
La Flèche Wallonne Féminine and La Flèche Wallonne on April 20,
followed by Liège–Bastogne–Liège
a few days later on April 24, will bring down the curtain on the spring classics season. A few small but significant changes have been made to the course, potentially
shaking up the traditional hierarchy among punchy riders.
The Mur de Huy will set the scene for two spectacular events on April 20. The ladies will fire the opening salvoes in the battle for the Mur. It has become a tradition for the champions to test their legs in a clash that often sets the tune for the entire season. Last year, Anna van der Breggen opened her World Cup account here and went on to finish at the top of the classification in December! More generally, La Flèche boasts a formidable list of winners, including prolific hunters such as Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Marianne Vos and Nicole Cooke. Even more remarkably, the progression in performances says a lot about the overall growth of female cycling. The course is over 40 kilometres longer than ten years ago, and it contains more climbs (e.g. 6 in 2002 vs 11 in 2016), yet average speeds keep getting higher. The ladies know how to put on a show.
After an extremely fast start and numerous breakaway attempts, six men eventually managed to take off at km 18.5: Minard (ALM), Muhlberger (BOA), Meersman (EQS), Van Speybrouck (TSV) Eaton (UHC) and Marycz (CCC). These six were then to be caught up by a seventh rider, Asselman (ROP), at km 26.
Later that afternoon, fireworks will light up the Chemin des Chapelles as the world's best punchers storm onto the stage. The final kilometre tilts towards the sky (9.6% average gradient with sections approaching 20%) and brings the most explosive riders in the peloton to the fore. Raw power will not be enough —strategic intuition will be needed to adapt to a series of course modifications that could change the face of the race. The start of the race in the pretty town of Marche-en-Famenne does not stray away from the tradition of La Flèche Wallonne. However, following the addition of the Côte de Cherave to the final stretch of the race last year, the introduction of the Côte de Solières about 40 kilometres from the finish could push fatigue in the peloton to critical levels. Riders will have to keep some of their gunpowder dry for the finale.
The approach of the Liège–Bastogne–Liège weekend heralds the end of the classics season for the peloton. In Belgium, Classics specialists will squeeze every last ounce of energy to try and win one of the most prestigious races. La Doyenne rewards the bravest of the handful of pretenders still in the mix on the final climb in Ans. A new sequence making its debut this year is likely to whittle down their numbers even further. Riders will tackle the toughest side of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons (1.3 km at an average gradient of 11%) with 20 km to go. A short detour will separate the men from the boys in the final kilometres as the riders tackle a 550-metre stretch of Rue Naniot, with a gradient of 10.5% and little cobblestones which could turn the race on its head.
Twenty-five cycling teams have been selected to take part to the 114th edition of Paris-Roubaix which will take place on April 10th :
In accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale rules, the following eighteen UCI WorldTeam are automatically invited to the race:
In addition to these eighteen teams, the organisers have awarded the following wildcards:
Thanks to his master piece on the climb up Green Mountain during stage 4 of the event, Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour of Oman for the first time in his career. The Italian who had finished runner-up of the race back in 2012, captures victory with a final advantage of 15'' over Frenchman Romain Bardet and 24'' over his Danish team mate Jakob Fuglsang. The final stage of the race was claimed in a bunched sprint by Alexander Kristoff, earning his second stage success of this 7th edition. A promising start to the season for both Kristoff in his quest to capture glory in the classics and Nibali hoping to win the Giro d'Italia for the second time.
For the final day of the Tour of Oman, the 138 remaining riders of the event were warmly welcomed at the residential area of The Wave Muscat by hundreds of spectators including a strong Norwegian contingent coming to cheer on their heroes, Alexander Kristoff (KAT) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD). Wearing the overall leader's Red jersey, Vincenzo Nibali (AST) could count on a 15'' lead over Romain Bardet (ALM) as the pack took off at 12:25 for a 130.5-km ride all the way to the Matrah Corniche.
After an extremely fast start and numerous breakaway attempts, six men eventually managed to take off at km 18.5: Minard (ALM), Muhlberger (BOA), Meersman (EQS), Van Speybrouck (TSV) Eaton (UHC) and Marycz (CCC). These six were then to be caught up by a seventh rider, Asselman (ROP), at km 26.
The gap grew progressively and reached a maximum of 2'30'' at km 40. From then on, team Katusha took on the chase. At the top of the first climb of the day (Al Hamriyah, 78), won by Van Speybrouck ahead of Minard and Marycz, the pack remained 1'48''. That gap dropped down to 1'38'' at the first intermediate sprint (km 92) claimed by Van Speybrouck. The Belgian again reached the summit of the second climb (Al Jissah, km 95) in the lead while the gap had stabilized.
But the chase intensified and as the front seven entered the final circuit on the Matrah Corniche for three laps, the pack moved closer: 52'' at the first crossing of the line. While the second bonus sprint was won by Van Speybrouck ahead of Meersman and Muhlberger, the pack led by teams Katusha and Wanty Group Gobert was within shooting distance, at 40''. Just after that sprint, Meersman decided to attack taking with him Minard, Muhlberger and Van Speyboruck but the last four survivors of the day's breakaway were eventually caught with 5 kilometres to go.
Despite the pack breaking up into several groups all the main favourites remained at the front and stage victory would be decided in a bunched sprint. Perfectly led out by his Katusha team mates, Alexander Kristoff powered to line beating Zico Waeytens (TGA) and Soren Kragh Andersen (TGA). The Norwegian who had already triumphed at Naseem Park wins his second stage of this edition and his fifth in Oman. Already victorious on three occasions during the Tour of Qatar, Kristoff does even better than last year at the same period, capturing a total of 5 wins in just 11 days.
21st of the stage, Vincenzo Nibali wins this 7th edition of the Tour of Oman after conquering the Red Jersey at the end of stage 4 heading to the top of Green Mountain. In the final general classification, the Italian finishes with a 15'' lead over Romain Bardet (ALM) and 24'' over Jakob Fuglsang (AST). A winner of two stages and 6th overall, Edvald Boasson Hagen wins the points classification while Brendan Canty (DPC), 7th of the GC, finishes best young rider. The Most Aggressive jersey of the Tour of Oman goes to South African Jacques Janse Van Rensburg who also wins the team classification with his Dimension Data squad.
After loosing his overall leader's Red Jersey to Vincenzo Nibali during yesterday's stage to Green Mountain, Edvald Boasson Hagen hit back in style. On day 5 of the Tour of Oman, the Norwegian managed to remain in the group of favourites that only just caught the breakaway riders with two kilometres to go, and powered to the line, claiming his second stage success of this 2016 edition. Already victorious of stage 2 at Quriyat, Boasson Hagen this time beat Greg Van Avermaet and Marco Canola to the line in front of the Ministry of Tourism. Well established in the front group, Nibali keeps the overall lead and still has a 15'' advantage over Bardet with one day to go.
What better place than Yiti, just by the sea for the start of stage 5 of the Tour of Oman. The conditions were indeed magnificent and the landscape stunning for the start of the race, especially after yesterday's demanding stage to Jabal Al Akhdhar. But after enjoying the splendid scenery, the pack of 138 riders would have to take on a short (119.5kms) but extremely tough course all the way to the Ministry of Tourism.
Indeed after taking off at 12:34 AM, the first few kilometres would be viciously hard. On the roller-coaster ride just after km 0, Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (DDD) managed to take off early. The South African was then caught by two other men at km 14 : Hugo Houle (ALM) and Pieter Weening (ROP). And the gap increased dramatically over a pack led by team Astana of new race leader, Vincenzo Nibali.
At the first intermediate sprint of the day (km 29), won by Janse Van Rensburg ahead of Houle and Weening, the gap was of 5'10''. It then reached 5'50'' at the top of the first climb of the day (Al Jissah, km 33) where Janse Van Rensburg was again first, and even a maximum of 6'15'' at the top of the second climb (km 40) again won by the virtual leader of the event, Janse Van Rensburg (5'19'' adrift in the morning's GC).
But from then on teams Astana and Lampre-Merida started chasing. At the top of the first of three climbs up Bousher Al Amerat (km 76.5), Janse again captured the most points while the pack moved closer at 4'18. The penultimate climb of the day would be a tough one for Houle dropped by his breakaway companions. Despite several attacks from Janse Van Rensburg, Weening managed to stay put and both men reached the top of the fourth climb (km 91) with a 2' lead over Houle and 3'38'' over the pack. While Houle was caught, that advantage dropped down to 1'13 at the second bonus sprint (fifth climb, km 106) again claimed by Janse. Meanwhile, just over twenty men remained in the red jersey group including all the race favourites.
With 13 kms to go, it was still looking good for the front two. Struggling against the wind, the leaders did however see the leaders move closer. With 10 kms to go, their lead had dropped to a worrying 38''. Despite collaborating perfectly, there wasn't much the front riders could do against the chasing pack. With just over 2 kms to go, they were eventually caught. A group of around 30 men remained together all the way to the final straight. Well led out by his three Dimension Data team mates, Edvald Boasson Hagen powered to the line, claiming his second stage success of this edition, his third in Oman. The Norwegian beats Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Marco Canola (UHC) to the line.
Comfortably settled in the front group, Vincenzo Nibali (AST), 12th of the day, keeps command of the GC and will wear the red jersey for the final stage tomorrow from The Wave Muscat to the Matrah Corniche. Thanks to his second stage success, Boasson Hagen leads the points classification while Brendan Canty (DPC) remains the best young rider. Capturing a total of 21 points today at both sprints and mountain climbs, Jacques Janse Van Rensburg captures the Most Aggressive rider's jersey.
The queen stage of the 2016 Tour of Oman was at the height of expectations and offered a tremendous battle between the favourites of the event all the way to the finish line on Jabal Al Akhdhar. Already a winner back in 2012 at Green Mountain, Vincenzo Nibali made the best of the decisive climb, beating Romain Bardet and Jakob Fuglsang. While former leader Edvald Boasson Hagen lost over a minute on the day, the Italian winner of all three Grand Tours captures the overall leader's red jersey. With two stages to go Nibali has an interesting 15'' lead over Bardet and is on pole position to win his first ever Tour of Oman.
At the start of stage 4 of the Tour of Oman, there were some concerned faces. Indeed the day would promise to be a hard one with the final climb up Jabal Al Akhdhar, also known as Green Mountain, especially because this year, the famous climb would be longer with an extra 1.8kms. Thankfully for the 139 riders, and unlike yesterday, there would be no thunder storms as they took off under a bright sun from Knowledge Oasis Muscat. The pack started its 180-km effort at 11:00, heading south.
After just a kilometre two men took off: most agressive rider, Kenny Dehaes and his team mate Björn Thurau (WGG). After having an 8'' lead, they were caught six kilometres later. It was then the turn of Davide Cimolai (LAM) and Daniel Oss (BMC) to try their luck. The two Italians were rapidly caught by 8 other riders : Pfingsten (BOA), Keisse (EQS), Antonini, Stenuit (WGG), De Vries (ROP), Steels (TSV), White (UHC) and Reihs (SSG). The ten men saw the gap rapidly grow up to 3'20'' at km 40.
At the first intermediate sprint (km 82) claimed by Steels ahead of Keisse and Cimolai the gap grew to 4'15'' and reached a maximum 4'25'' at km 95. Chased down by teams Astana, Dimension Data and AG2R La Mondiale, the breakaway riders could still count on a 2'55'' with 20 kms to go. At the second bonus sprint (km 163), won by Antonini ahead of Stenuit and Steels, the gap had dropped to 2'10''. While Stenuit and Steels were the first to be dropped, the leading group reached the bottom of the final climb with a 40'' advantage.
Eventually Oss was the last to survive. All his former companions were indeed caught one after the other. The Italian was finally gobbled up by the pack at km 176. With four kilometres to go two men, Brambilla (EQS) and Weening (ROP) powered away from a group of around twenty men including all the GC favorites. Their lead grew to 10'' over a bunch led by four Astana riders, but they were soon to be caught. It was then Jakob Fuglsang's (AST) turn to give it a go taking with him Romain Bardet (ALM). Meanwhile red jersey Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD) started struggling.
Just under ten riders including Rui Costa (LAM), Nibali, Fuglsang (AST), Bardet, Pozzovivo (ALM), Sepulveda (FVC), Dumoulin (TGA), Kudus (DDD) and Canty (DPC) gathered together, while the overall leader was 23'' adrift with 2 kilometres to go. Again Bardet attacked alongside former Tour, Giro and Vuelta winner Vincenzo Nibali. Both men remained together with a slim advantage over their rivals. The stage ended up with a sprint between both men.
While Bardet was the first to take off with just over 100m to go, the Italian hung on to his wheel and eventually overtook him to capture victory. He crossed the line with a 9'' lead over the Frenchman and 12'' over Fuglsang, capturing his second win at Green Mountain after a first success back in 2012 when he finished second of the GC. Tenth of the day, Boasson Hagen crossed the line with a 1'10'' deficit, losing his leadership.
With two stages to go, Nibali takes command of the general classification and has a 15'' lead over Bardet and 24'' over Fuglsang. The Astana rider also leads the points classification while promising Brebdan Canty (DPC), 8th of the stage, captures the white jersey for the best young rider. The Most Aggressive rider's jersey remains on the shoulders of Kenny Dehaes (WGG).
When it comes to bunched sprints since the beginning of the cycling season, it's hard to find better rider than Alexander Kristoff. After two hard days of hilly racing on the Tour of Oman, the Norwegian made the best of a perfectly flat course to conquer his fourth success this year, beating Moreno Hofland and Roy Jans to the line by Naseem Park. The Katusha rider who already captured 3 stage wins in Qatar can enjoy a 50% winning rate after his first 8 days of racing. Solidly positioned in the pack, his compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen keeps the overall leader's Red Jersey.
After two fairly demanding and hilly stages, the pack of the Tour of Oman had to deal with a far flatter stage on day three of the event. While injured Johan Van Summeren (ALM) was forced to quit the race, 139 riders took off under a bright sunshine from the splendid Sawadi Beach at 11:20 AM for a 176.5-km ride to Naseem Garden.
After only 1 km of racing three men managed to break free from the pack: Dehaes (WGG), in the breakaway for the third consecutive day, Slik (ROP) and Kerby (DPC). The front trio was rapidly caught by two other men: Van Goethem (ROP) and Van Rooy (TSV). The gap rapidly grew and reached 4'15'' at km 25. From then on, teams Dimension Data, of new overall leader Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Katusha, started chasing down the front men.
At the first intermediate sprint (km 81) claimed by Dehaes in front of Van Rooy and Slik, the gap had dropped to 2' as thunder storms hit the race. With Van Rooy refusing to cooperate in the breakaway group, three of the five front men powered away at km 125: Slik, Van Goethem and Kerby. While the two dropped riders were caught at km 130, the pack remained 1'50 adrift.
At the second bonus sprint (km 149), won by Van Goethem ahead of Kerby and Slik, the leaders could still enjoy a 1'38 advantage. Under the pressure of the bunch, Brian Van Goethem decided to try his luck on his own and took off with just Under 20 kms to go. While his former companions were caught, the Dutchman survived until km 169 before his heroics came to an end.
The pack then remained bunched all the way to the final straight by Naseem Park. Well led out by his Katusha team mates, Alexander Kristoff flew to the line, claiming the win ahead of Moreno Hofland (TLJ) and Roy Jans (WGG). The Norwegian captured his first stage of this edition and his third in Oman after triumphing these last two years. With just eight race days in his legs, Kristoff has won four times since the beginning of the season. His three wins in Qatar and this fourth one here give him a 50% success rate.
Well protected by his Dimension Data team mates and comfortably positioned in the pack, Edvald Boasson Hagen who finished at a fine 10th spot today, keeps his overall leader's Red Jersey. The Norwegian still has a 4'' lead over Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and 6'' over Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). He also remains in the lead of the points classification while Patrick Konrad (BOA) keeps the White Jersey for the best young rider. Thanks to the points he again conquered while in the breakaway, Kenny Dehaes captures the Most Aggressive rider's jersey.
Six years after already winning a stage of the Tour of Oman in Quriyat, Edvald Boasson Hagen triumphed again. This time, however, instead of a flat sprint, the Norwegian made the best of a brand new hilltop finish to beat all the favourites of the race. Beating Vincenzo Nibali and Greg Van Avermaet to the line, the Norwegian once again proved what great legs he had. Unlucky in Qatar where he should have won the GC if it hadn't been for an unfortunate puncture, the Dimension Data rider conquers the overall leader's Red Jersey from stage 1 winner Bob Jungels, dropped in the final climb.
After the thunder storms that struck the nation of Oman throughout the night, the beautiful weather had returned for day 2 of the Tour of Oman. A bright sunshine indeed welcomed the riders as they gathered in front of the Omantel Head Office for the start of stage 2. On the day's menu: 162 kms of riding all the way to Quriyat.
While Sulzberger (DPC) was forced to quit, 140 riders took off at 11:40 AM. Despite several attempts, the pack remained bunched all the way to km 9 where six men managed to power away: Perichon (FVC), Asselman (ROP), Steels (TSV) and Kamp (SSG), as well as Pfingsten (BOA) and Dehaes (WGG), already present in yesterday's long breakaway. The front group's advantage grew rapidly and was of 3'30 at the bottom of the first climb of the day. At the summit of Boucher Al Hamerat (km 33), the leading six, led out by Pfingsten ahead of Steels and Dehaes, could enjoy a maximum gap of 4'15. From then on overall leader Bob Jungels' Etixx Quick Step team took command of the chase.
At the first intermediate sprint (km 81) won by Kamp in front of Dehaes and Steels, the pack had moved closer: 3'15''. Seeing the gap drop down, three men from the front group attacked: Périchon, Asselman and Kamp. Their lead over their former breakaway compangnons reached 1'30''. While the dropped men were eventually caught by the pack at km 111, the leaders could still enjoy an increased 3'40'' advantage.
At the second bonus sprint (km 139.5), again claimed by Kamp in front of Asselman and Perichon, the pack remained 44'' adrift. The leaders were eventually caught with 20 kilometres to go. As the riders headed back towards the city of Quriyat enjoying a fairly strong tailwind, team BMC accelerated at the front of the pack and created several echelons. Among the dropped men were the likes of Richie Porte (BMC) and Dan Martin (EQS). With 5 kms to go, the front group of around 50 riders had a 50'' lead.
The final showdown between the big guns of the race would take place on the 3-km climb to the finish. Two kilometres from the line, struggling Red jersey, Bob Jungels (EQS) failed to remain in the front group, loosing all hopes of keeping his overall leadership. A group of 9 men battled it out on a final sprint and Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD) proved to be the fastest. The Norwegian claimed his third stage success in Oman, beating Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to the line. It was also the Norwegian's second victory in Quriyat after triumphing there back in 2010, but at the time, the finish was on a flat straight.
Thanks to his stage win Boasson Hagen takes command of the GC (Red Jersey) and has a 4'' lead over Nibali and 5'' over Van Avermaet. Former leader and stage 1 winner, Jungels crossed the lind in 31st position, 59'' adrift. The Norwegian also leads the points classification (Green jersey) while Patrick Konrad (BOA) claims the White jersey for the best young rider. Winner of the two intermediate sprints today Alexander Kamp captured the Most Aggressive rider's jersey.
Unlike the previous years when stage 1 of the Tour of Oman traditionally finished with a bunched sprint, the battle between the GC contenders occurred as soon as day 1 and its hilly final part heading to Al Bustan. Among a group of 16 favourites where only Porte and Kristoff were missing, Bob Jungels managed to power away on the final descent with 2 kilometres to go. Crossing the line alone with a 6'' lead over Pauwels and Bardet, the Luxemburger claimed his first success in Oman, and his first win under his new Etixx Quickstep colours. Jungels leads the GC and will have to switch his national champion's jersey for a bright red one.
A beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures welcomed the peloton of the 7th edition of the Tour of Oman for stage 1 of the event. 141 riders gathered in front of the Oman Exhibition Center for the start of the race before taking on the 145.5-km ride all the way to Al Bustan. The pack took off just after 11:00 heading west before returning towards Muscat.
After only two kilometres, two men managed to break away: Pfingsten (BOA) and Dehaes (WGG). Five kilometres later they were caught by three other riders: De Vries (ROP), Van Speybrouck (TSV) and Koning (DPC). The gap rapidly grew over an unconcerned pack and reached 6'20 at km 25. From then on teams Astana and BMC took the chase on and the gap dropped. At the first intermediate sprint (km 76), claimed by De Vries ahead of Dehaes and Van Speybrouck, the pack however remained 3'05 adrift.
The front five managed to stay clear of the pack all the way to km 116 when Dehaes and Koning were the first to be dropped. Four kilometres later, the remaining three escapees were caught by the peloton just before the first climb of the day. The pack remained bunched all the way to the top of Al Hamriyah where Janse Van Rensburg (DDD) made it first ahead of Capiot (TSV) and De Plus (EQS). Just after that first difficulty, Pavel Kochetkov (KAT) gave it a go. After enjoying a 25'' advantage at km 125 he was also to be caught.
The second bonus sprint (km 136) was then won by Capiot in front of Faria (LAM) and Kozonchuk (KAT). Time then came for the big battle between the favourites on the climb up Al Jissah. Among the first riders to be dropped was Richie Porte (BMC). Alexander Kristoff (KAT) winner of two stages here last year was the next of the big guns to struggle. Eventually, 16 men powered away. Among the front group were the likes of Nibali (AST), Rui Costa (LAM), Van Avermaet (BMC), Bardet, Pozzovivo (ALM), Martin, Jungels (EQS), Sepulveda (FVC), Boasson Hagen (DDD) and Rebellin (CCC). The final climb of the day (km 140) was conquered by Oss (BMC) ahead of Bystrom (KAT) and Fuglsang (AST).
With just under five kilometres to go, Sepulveda suffered a crash, loosing all hopes of claiming this first stage in Oman. The front group remained together on the long downhill portion towards the final straight. With two kilometres to go, Bob Jungels (EQS) managed to pull away, enjoying a 7'' lead before the final kilometre. The Luxemburg national champion stayed clear of his rivals and went on to capture his first ever victory in Oman. Jungels also claims his first success under his new Etixx Quickstep colours while Serge Pauwels (DDD), 6'' adrift, finishes second and Romain Bardet third.
The day's stage winner conquers the overall leader's Red Jersey and has a 10'' lead over Pauwels and 14'' over Bardet. The Luxemburger also leads the points classification and the best young riders standings while Amaury Capiot (TSV) conquers the Most Aggressive rider's jersey.
The 7th edition of the Tour of Oman will feature an impressive line-up of riders: a former World Champion, a winner of all three Grand Tours and classics specialists that have been often crowned in Spring. Men that will be battling it out during six tough stages of racing including the climb up terrible Green Mountain. We had a chat with the main contenders for victory on the event.
Vincenzo NIBALI (Astana) : « Green Mountain will be even more decisive » « I'm happy to see that the temperature here is great and fresher than last year. We come here with a good group of riders. The Green Mountain stage will certainly be the most important one and with an extra two kilometres of climbing it'll be even more decisive. I wanted to follow the same race program than in the previous years. Coming to Oman has always worked out well for me. I don't want to change something that works out.
Every year I try to change my goals to avoid falling in a routine. For the last two years, the Tour de France was my main goal but after being absent these last two years, I had to return to the Giro, for the tifosi and also because it's an amazing race.
Concerning the Tour it all depends on how the season goes and on how hard the two grand tours are. If the Giro is very hard, it is indeed hard to compete on the Tour de France because you don't have a lot of time to recover. I just want to focus on the Giro and on the Olympics, so maybe I'll use the Tour de France as a preparation for Rio. At Astana, we have two leaders: Aru and myself, so it's logical to divide the objectives in two. »
Tom DUMOULINS (Giant Alpecin): « Focused on the Olympics » « It's always nice to have a positive and good start but it isn't the end of the world if it's a little bit disappointing. I showed in the past that I could fight back after disappointments. It's going to be hard. There looks to be just one sprinters stage and for the rest there are always tricky moments and some climbs. Two uphill finishes is more than the other years. That's only better for me. I'm not here to sprint. My main goal this year is the Olympics. The season will be turned around that goal. I will start the Giro with expectations on the time-trials rather than the GC. It's going to be a time-trial year for me. After the Vuelta, you would have thought that I could go for the GC in the grand tours. We decided to postpone that for one year and to keep focusing on time-trials. The Olympics is the only reason for that. The Olympics are only once every four years. And it's not that often that I find a time-trial course that suits me so well. Maybe my next chance will never come and that's why I really want to focus on the Games. »
Richie PORTE (BMC): « More pressure but also more exciting being a leader »
« It's all about being relaxed in january for me this year. Although I didn't work as hard as last year, I still came away with a good result at the Tour DownUnder. My new coach, David Bailey, just asked me to ride my bike and enjoy it while I was in Tasmania. It's what I've been doing but anybody who's been in Tasmania knows how tough the riding is. You get a benefit there just by riding your bike and doing the basic kilometres.
Being at BMC gives me a little bit more pressure. I've never been able to target the Tour de France in July so it's also quite exciting. When you go to a team and become co-leader with Teejay (Van Garderen) it's not like being at Sky where Chris Froome is the only leader. It's just a little bit more relaxed at this time of the year. You're more focused on July.
Here, Greg Van Avermaet is going to try and win a stage. I'm not so sure about me. Obviously I've done Green Mountain before. I know how hard it is. I'd like to take my chances on that. Concerning GC, I'm not sure. »
Romain BARDET (AG2R La Mondiale): « Come out of Oman in better shape »
« This year there are top guys like Richie (Porte) who was pretty good in January and also Nibali and the others. It's going to be a hard race. Green Mountain is going to be pretty tough. There are close to two extra kilometres. We'll have more than 7 kilometres of climbing. It'll be very hard for February. I just hope to come out of Oman in a better shape. My level in training was good but racing is something else. I will try to improve stage by stage and why not go for the GC. »
Dan MARTIN (ETIXX QUICKSTEP) : « Maybe a bit limited for Green Mountain »
« I'd like to win a stage here to continue doing well. I've won a stage in Valencia and would like to win again here. We have a great team here but it's really hot. The heat is going to be a factor for sure. It's a beautiful course and I'm really excited to discover the country. I think I'm a little bit limited for Green Mountain. We'll see. There are so many other options. »
Media coverage of the Tour of Oman
The 7th edition of the Tour of Oman will be increasingly broadcasted around the World. This year, a 26min highlights program will be available on the evening of the race and will be broadcasted on five continents. The highlights added to the news coverage of the race will be seen in 189 territories. While Eurosport continues its extensive coverage in Europe, new channels join the race such as Bein Sports for the Middle East and North Africa, Rai Sports in Italy, ESPN in Latin America.
Add to that, extensive live coverage will be available on the @tourofoman twitter account as well as the Instagram and Facebook pages.
After reconquering the golden jersey yesterday in Madinat Al Shamal, Mark Cavendish battled it out to the line capturing second spot of the final sprint which was enough to give him overall victory on the 15th edition of the Tour of Qatar. The last stage of the event was captured by Alexander Kristoff, claiming his third success this year and his 6th in Qatar. Winner of the Tour back in 2013, Cav manages a triumphant return to the race after a three-year absence. The Brit conquers the race with a slim 5'' lead over Kristoff and 8'' over Van Avermaet.
AThe faces were tense at the start of the 5th and final stage of the Tour of Qatar. And the reasons were obvious. Not only due the wind blowing significantly on the Qatar peninsula, but mainly because there was still a lot at stake in this 15th edition of the event. Indeed after yesterday's upset (puncture in the final 10 kms) concerning former race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD), the GC had dramatically changed with extremely slim gaps. Taking off with the golden jersey, Mark Cavendish (DDD) only had a 2'' advantage over Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), 6'' over Maniuel Quniziato (BMC) and 9'' over Alexander Kristoff (KAT). In other words overall victory would have to await the final sprint on the Doha Corniche.
Taking off from the Sealine Beach Resort, south of the nation, 130 remaining riders (two non starters: Koep (SSG) and Ibrahim (SKD)) took off for a 114.5-km ride all the way to the Doha Corniche. After only 5 kilometres, three men managed to break away: Tronet (FVC), Declercq (TSV) and Sergent (ALM). Their advantage reached 52'' over counter-attacking rider Van Goethem (ROP) and 2'20 over the pack.
Fifteen kilometres later, while the first chasing rider was caught, the gap grew to 2'25 at km 28 and even a maximum 4' at km 40. Under the control of teams Katusha and Dimension Data, le front rider could still enjoy a comfortable lead once on the final circuit. At the first intermediate sprint of the day (4th crossing of the line, km 74.5), won by Sergent in front of Tronet and Declercq, the main bunch remained 2'15 adrift.
Apparently not interested by the bonus seconds up for grabs at the second intermediate sprint, team Katusha let the front men battle it out by themselves. Indeed at the 8th crossing of the line (km 97.5), Declercq won the sprint ahead of Sergent and Tronet while the pack was still 28'' adrift. The first man to be caught was French Champion Steven Tronet at km 104 while the remaining two leaders were gobbled up by the pack with just under two laps to go.
The pack remained bunched all the way the final straight. As expected a royal sprint took place between the two fastest men of the peloton: Cavendish vs Kristoff and it was finally the latter who outsprinted his main rival, crossing the line with a whisker of a lead on 'Cav' while Roy Jans (WGG) finished third. Like a year ago, Kristoff wins three out of five stages on the Tour of Qatar but only just misses out on overall glory.
A winner of the event back in 2013, Cavendish tops the GC and conquers the final golden jersey. The Brit wins the race with a slim 5'' lead over Kristoff and 8'' over Van Avermaet (BMC). The silver jersey for the best rider in the point's classification naturally goes to Kristoff. Danish rider Soren Kragh Andersen (TGA) finishes best young rider (pearl white jersey) while BMC claims the team classification.
Looking almost untouchable in gold after his time-trial win yesterday, Edvald Boasson Hagen was hit by bad luck on the 4th stage of the Tour of Qatar. Perfectly positioned at the front with 10 kms to go, the Norwegian suffered an unfortunate puncture that cost him his overall leader's golden jersey. The day's stage victory eventually went to his compatriot Alexander Kristoff winning for the second consecutive year in Madinat Al Shamal. Very saddened by his team mate's upset, Mark Cavendish, fifth today, moves back into race leadership. The battle for glory promises to be extremely intense tomorrow for the final day of the event: indeed only 2'' separate 'Cav' from his closest rival Greg Van Avermaet in the GC.
A day after what looked to be a decisive time-trial conquered by Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD), the riders gathered around the World Unesco heritage site of the Al Zubarah Fort for stage 4 of the Tour of Qatar. On the menu: a 189-km stage heading to Madinat Al Shamal where the 132 riders would battle it out on a final wind-swept circuit.
After an extremely fast start, thanks to the tailwind, several riders tried their luck but their breakaway efforts were vain. Eventually after 17 kilometres, 9 men managed to power away from the pack : Zakharov (AST), Van Hecke (TSV), McNally (WGG), Gretsch, Turgot (ALM), De Vries (ROP), Eaton (UHC) and Koep (SSG). Their lead reached a maximum 2'15'' advantage at the first intermediate sprint (km 73) won by Gretsch ahead of Van Hecke and Zakharov.
After a sharp right turn, the pace of the pack went dramatically faster, led by team BMC Racing. While the gap with the front men started dropping, the pack broke up into several groups. In the leading group of 31 behind the escapees were golden jersey Boasson Hagen, silver jersey Mark Cavendish (DDD), white pearl jersey Andersen (TGA) as well as all the main favourites. The gap continued dropping and eventually the front 9 were caught at km 88. Meanwhile as the front group entered the circuit around Madinat Al Shamal, the main pack including the likes of Sam Bennett (BOA) and Sven Erik Byström (KAT) remained 52'' adrift. Facing the wind, all the groups eventually bunched up together again at km 110.
Five kilometres later, four men gave it a go: Van Hecke, McNally and Gretsch, again, as well as Asselman (ROP). Their lead rapidly grew and reached a maximum 2'15'' at the first crossing of the line (km 135). At the second bonus sprint (2nd crossing of the line, km 148.5) won by Gretsch ahead of Asselman and McNally, the bunch had moved closer but remained 1'25'' adrift.
Led by team Dimension Data, the pack carried on gaining time on the breakaway riders who were finally caught with just under one lap to go (km 176). The riders from teams BMC and Lotto NL- Jumbo then decided to take control of the bunch and while 33 riders were left at the front, overall leader Boasson Hagen suffered a puncture with just under 10 kilometres to go. Despite being helped out by team mate Reguigui, the Norwegian was left stranded behind. BMC continued powering ahead and the gap over yesterday's stage winner reached 40'' with 5kms left.
While Boasson Hagen was seeing his golden jersey hopes fade away, time had come for a bunched sprint. Perfectly led out by his Katusha team mates, Alexander Kristoff flew to his second stage win this year, only just beating Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to the line while Jacopo Guarnieri (KAT) finished third. Already a winner in Madinat Al Shamal last year, Kristoff claimes his fifth success in Qatar.
Fifth on the day, Mark Cavendish (DDD) re-conquers the golden jersey from his team mate Boasson Hagen. The Brit has a very slim 2'' lead over Van Avermaet and 6'' over Quinziato (BMC) with one final stage to go. Thanks to his stage win, Kristoff takes command of the points classification and will be wearing the silver jersey tomorrow between the Sealine Beach Resort and the Doha Corniche. The white pearl jersey for the best young rider remains on the shoulders of Soren Kragh Andersen (TGA).
Despite its short history, the Tour of Oman, scheduled for February 16 to 21 this year, has become the scene of an early-season melee between pretenders to the crowns of the Grand Tours of cycling. The Green Mountain stage in particular will offer some clues about the shape of Richie Porte, Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet. However, the event could also provide a springboard for riders such as Tom Dumoulin, Dan Martin, Rui Costa and Jurgen Van Den Broeck.
AThe search for fair weather and the ideal place for training may be a handy excuse, but make no mistake: the big guns are coming to Oman with their eyes firmly set on the prize. While the highlights of the season are still some time away, the races leading up to them are a great opportunity to fill one's trophy room and make a strong impression. The course of the seventh edition provides many opportunities for punchers and pure climbers alike to stage a coup. The real fireworks will come in stage 4 with the traditional summit finish on Green Mountain, an ascent that will be 1.8 km longer this year —time for mountain goats to come out and play. Richie Porte, Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet are among the favourites to win both the stage and the general classification. However, the climb is quite short (7.5 km) but with an interesting steep (10.7% gradient), leaving an opening for other riders. Tom Dumoulin's bold ride in the last Vuelta a España makes him a solid outsider. Other potential challengers include former world champion Rui Costa and Dan Martin, who left climbers such as Aru, Poels and L. L. Sánchez in the dust in the recent Tour of Valencia, as well as Jurgen Van Den Broeck, as long as his new Katusha colours help him find the form that propelled him to fourth place in the 2012 Tour de France.
18 teams, main contenders
AThe Tour of Qatar has a new boss. Thanks to his outstanding performance on the day's 11.4-km time-trial, Edvald Boasson Hagen not only captured his first ever success in Qatar, beating Van Emden and Quinziato, he also took a solid command of the general classification. Despite an excellent 7th fastest time today, Mark Cavendish sees his Golden jersey go to his Dimension Data team mate.
After two normal stages and intense battles between the top guns of the Tour of Qatar, day 3 of the event offered a far diffferent menu to the 133 remaining riders : a windy 11.4-km individual time-trial set between the Lusail MotoGP circuit and the spectacular Arena that welcomed last year's handball World Championships.
After best times set by Jesse Sergent (ALM), and Jordan Kerby (DPC), experienced Lieuwe Westra (AST) hit hard, clocking a reference time of 14'09''. The Dutchman's time remained unthreatened for 45 minutes before his compatriot Jos Van Emden (TLJ) flew to the line in an impressive time of 13'51''..
But the man of the day would be Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD). The Norwegian first set the fastest time at the intermediate time-check in 6'16 before crossing the line in an astonishing 13'26'', winning the stage at an average speed of 50.918 km/h, with a comfortable 25'' advantage over Van Emden and 29'' over Manuel Quinziato (BMC). On the exact same circuit as last year, the Dimension Data rider thrashed the previous record set by Niki Terpstra (14'03'') and established a time that was 59'' faster than his personal best of 2015 when he finished 8th.
Starting his timed effort with a slim 5'' lead over Kristoff in the GC, Mark Cavendish had to bid farewell to his Golden Jersey, despite a very decent 7th fastest time, just 44'' adrift. The new overall leader is his team mate Boasson Hagen who can enjoy a 26'' advantage over Cavendish and 29'' over Quinziato. 'Cav' however keeps command of the points classification and will therefore be wearing the silver jersey on tomorrow's 4th stage between Al Zubarah and Madinat Al Shamal. The white pearl jersey for the best young rider switches shoulders and returns to those of Soren Kragh Andersen (TGA).
After conquering stage 1 and the golden jersey yesterday, there wasn't much Mark Cavendish could do against Alexander Kristoff on day 2 of the Tour of Qatar. In a final bunched sprint by the Qatar University, the Norwegian powered to the line, beating his main rival by just a few inches and capturing his fourth stage success in Qatar. The day had been intense for Cavendish not present in the group of favourites that had taken off in the early stages of the race. And after things had settled, once on the circuit of the next World Championships, and the pack bunched up, the Brit had to be content with second spot on the day. Before the all-important time-trial, he keeps his GC leader's Golden jersey.
On the occasion of the Qatar National Sport Day, stage 2 of the Tour of Qatar would indeed be an intense one. The reason: a very strong wind blowing from the north-east of the peninsula. On this second day of the event, the riders would also have the opportunity to discover the final circuit of the next road World Championships in october. And on such an occasion, it was only natural to see UCI president Brian Cookson launch the 136 riders for their 145.5-km effort.
Facing the wind, the first part of the stage was rather slow, unlike yesterday's extremely fast day that saw Mark Cavendish conquer his 9th win in Qatar. After only two kilometres, four men managed to break away from the pack: Lieuwe Westra (AST), Preben Van Hecke (TSV), Gediminas Bagdonas (ALM) and Brian van Goethem (ROP). The gap rapidly grew and reached 1'30 at km 25.
But after a change in direction, heading back south, the pace dramatically changed and the pack broke up into several groups. While the front four were caught at km 35, just over 20 men powered away at the front. Among the group were the likes of Kristoff (KAT), Boasson Hagen (DDD), Bennett (BOA), Guardini (AST) and Hofland (TLJ). At the first intermediate sprint (km 39) claimed by Kristoff ahead of Boasson Hagen and Kuznetsov (KAT), the chasing bunch including Cavendish and Modolo (LAM) were 14'' adrift. That gap grew to 50'' as the leaders entered the Pearl World Championship circuit (km 79).
Eventually the golden jersey group managed to catch up with the front group and the pack bunched up at km 84. That was the moment chosen by two men to take off : Preben Van Hecke, again, and Gatis Smukulis (AST). The second bonus sprint set on the finish line of the next 'Worlds' was won by Van Hecke ahead of Smukulis while the peloton led by Boasson Hagen, third, remained 43'' adrift. The front duo's advantage reached a maximum 1' lead at km 110 before teams Dimension Data, BMC and Katusha started chasing them down. They were eventually caught at km 125.
After exiting the Pearl circuit, the pack remained bunched all the way to the final straight by the Qatar University. On the slightly uphill sprint, several riders, including Guardini (AST), Brown (DPC) and best young rider Andersen (TGA) suffered a crash. That didn't prevent the big guns to battle it out for victory. Well led out by his Katusha boys, Alexander Kristoff only just managed to capture the win, beating Cavendish to the line by just a few inches, while Roy Jans (WGG) finished third. The Norwegian captured his 4th stage success in Qatar after triumphing three times last year.
In the new general classification, Mark Cavendish keeps his golden jersey but now only has a 5'' lead over Kristoff and 14'' over Modolo. The Brit also keeps command of the points classification (silver jersey) while Sven Erik Bystrøm (KAT) becomes the best young rider of the event (white pearl jersey).
The 15th edition of the Tour of Qatar started in style and full speed ahead. At an average speed of close to 52km/h, Mark Cavendish flew to an impressive stage success for his return on the race after his last triumph in 2013. The Brit captured his first win under his new Dimension Data colours, earning his 9th victory in Qatar. After being among a 21-man group taking off early, 'Cav' was the fastest of the sprint on the Al Khor Corniche, beating Modolo and Guardini to the line.
For the first stage of the 2016 Tour of Qatar, the riders are gathered on the eastern coast of Qatar, in the city of Dukhan for the start of the race. Under a bright sunshine and in rather windy conditions, 140 competitors took off for a 180.5-km ride all the way to Al Khor on the north-western coast.
After an extremely fast start due to the favourable wind, the first real action started at km 38 when the pack broke up into two main groups. Twelve kilometres later, again the front group of around 100 men parted leaving only 21 riders at the front. Among the leading group were the likes of Kristoff (KAT), Cavendish, Boasson Hagen (DDD), Andersen (TGA), Van Avermaet (BMC), Bennett (BOA), Gerard (FVC), Guardini (AST) and Modolo (LAM). Their lead grew from 35'' at km 57 to 50'' at km 81.
The first intermediate sprint (km 106.5) was claimed by Kristoff ahead of Cavendish and Modolo while the first chasing group remained 1'05'' adrift. And the gap remained the same all the way to the second bonus sprint, claimed by Cavendish in front of Kuznetsov (KAT) and Van Avermaet, and beyond. Indeed with 20kms to go, the front men could still enjoy a 1'10'' lead. Eventually a group of 16 men reached the final 3 kms with a 1'30 advantage and could start considering stage victory.
Taking off from far out and making the best of the tailwind on the Al Khor Corniche, Mark Cavendish stayed clear of his rivals, victoriously crossing the finish line ahead of Sacha Modolo and Andrea Guardini. The Brit conquers his 9th stage in Qatar and triumphs for the third time in Al Khor after 2012 and 2013.
Thanks to his success, the 2011 road World Champion captures the overall leader's golden jersey that he last wore when he won the event back in 2013. Cavendish also leads the points classification while Soren Andersen (TGA) captures the white pearl jersey for the best young rider.
Edition 15 of the Tour of Qatar assumes a unique importance with Doha hosting the UCI Road World Championships at the end of the season. The stage race from the 8th to the 12th of February will provide serious indications concerning the chances of Mark Cavendish and Alexander Kristoff…
It is not often a sprinter is a contender for the win on a stage race. Mark Cavendish did it in Qatar in 2013, and he is ready to get his season off to a strong start with a repeat victory in 2016 in the colours of his new team Dimension Data. Despite increasing challenges in his specialty for the past several years, the British rider hasn't stopped winning. Accompanied by an all-star squad, with Edvald Boasson-Hagen and his partner in crime from his days at HTC Mark Renshaw, who also triumphed on the Tour of Qatar in 2011, the "Cav" could do it again on a course that suits him favourably. In the final metres, he will have to battle with other sprint specialists like Sam Bennett, Yauheni Hutarovich, Andrea Guardini and Moreno Hofland. But in Qatar, where the roads are often swept by the wind, the title isn't always decided on mass sprints. This added difficulty will work to the advantage of the contenders for the top spots in the spring classics, who once again make the trip to Doha this year.
Winner of the Tour of Flanders last year, but also of three stages in Qatar, Alexander Kristoff comes in as Cavendish's designated rival. In the same regard, Greg van Avermaet might seize the opportunity to demonstrate that he can be a front-runner. It is the same for Lars Boom, who is also aware that his spring season gets underway as well in Qatar…
18 teams, the main riders :
Confirmed media included, but are not limited to AFP, Cycle Sport, Eurosport, De Telegraaf, Reuters, L'Equipe, Shanghai Weekly, AP Photo, SNTV and EVS