Cycling: It's all about mountains and wonders in Tour of Oman

Sports Tuesday 31/January/2017 20:00 PM
By: Times News Service
Cycling: It's all about mountains and wonders in Tour of Oman

Muscat: The international peloton will hit the roads of the Sultanate of Oman from February 14 to 19 for a first opportunity to tackle some difficult climbs and feel how good the legs are.
In between two sprinter-friendly stages, the puncheurs will have several chances to surprise the peloton. Most importantly for the GC, the Green Mountain summit finish, coming on the eve of the final stage in Muscat, will leave some climbers bursting with confidence and some filled with doubt.
It is always hard to resist the siren call of the Omani mountains. Offering the first really difficult climbs of the season, the opportunity to conquer them continues to attract an increasingly wide range of riders each year.
The familiar punchy finishes on the Al Jissah climb at Al Bustan (1.4 km at 9 percent) and in Quriyat (2.8 km at 6.5 percent) are tailor-made for opportunistic attackers like current Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet and with names such as Alexis Gougeard or Niki Terpstra.
The showdowns on these climbs will serve as the prelude to what will be the main event of the Tour of Oman: the ascent of Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain). As the penultimate stage of the race top-class contenders for the final General Classification victory including Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru, and Rui Costa will meet on the slopes of this demanding climb to gauge their form at the start of a season that is full of promise and uncertainty.
But in the Middle East climbers are not the only kings. The masters of the finishing straight, such as Tom Boonen or Alexander Kristoff, will also have multiple opportunities to lunge for the victory.
Naseem Park and Matrah Corniche will be the settings for these high-speed finishes. The fast men of the peloton will put their trains to work in these two stages, seeking to polish their positioning and oil the machine in order to claim their first major win of the season.
Teams selected for the 2017 Tour of Oman: World Tour: Ag2r–La Mondiale (FRA), Astana Pro Team (KAZ), Bahrain-Merida (BRN), BMC Racing Team (USA), Quick-Step Floors (BEL), Team Dimension Data (RSA), Team Katusha-Alpecin (SUI), Team Sunweb (GER) and Abu Dhabi (UAE).
Professional Continental: Aqua Blue Sport (IRL), Nippo Vini Fantini (ITA), Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (BEL), UnitedHealthCare Professional Cycling Team (USA), Wanty-Groupe Gobert (BEL), WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect (BEL), Wilier Triestina (ITA), CCC Sprandi Polkowice (POL) and Delko Marseille Provence KTM (FRA).