Fabian Cancellara will have a much more difficult time to win the Tour of Oman overall next year. The route, presented today in Muscat, will feature a climb of 3,000 metres on day four.
"Competitors this year will also find themselves tackling part of the mighty Jebel Akhdar ('Green Mountain')," read a press release, "a major test in endurance as well as around a loop of the ancient seaport of Sur."
Tour of Oman 2011: Stages
Stage 1: as Sawadi - Al Seeb, February 15
Stage 2: The Wave, Muscat - Al Wutayya, February 16
Stage 3: Sur - Sur, February 17
Stage 4: Sultan Qaboos University - Jabal al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), February 18
Stage 5: Al Jissah - Al Jissah (TT), February 19
Stage 6: Qurayyat - Mattrah Seafront, February 20
Total: 848 kilometres
Organiser of the Tour de France, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) presented the stage race at the opening of the second Asian Beach Games. Five-time Tour de France winners, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, joined ASO's race director, Christian Prudhomme.
Prudhomme revealed the six stages, from February 15 to 20, which are centred around the capital city, Muscat. The stage to Green Mountain and the next day's 18-kilometre time trial are the two key stages.
"Oman is a breathtakingly beautiful country," said Merckx. "This is a race to watch."
Sky's Bradley Wiggins will likely take note of the 18-kilometre time trial and use it as a chance to claim an early season win if he participates.
Sky's Norwegian, Edvald Boasson Hagen won a stage and led the race for two days last year. Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) won the final day's time trial last year and claimed the overall classification's red jersey.
Boasson Hagen finished second overall at 28 seconds and won the young rider and points competition. HTC-Columbia won the team classification.
The Tour of Oman began last year and follows on the heels of the Tour of Qatar. 16 teams of eight men will compete and fight for the €112,000 of prize purse, €9,200 to the overall winner.
The Tour of Qatar race runs from February 6 to 11.
Tour of Oman 2011: Team list
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Farnese Neri Cycling Team (GBR)
Pegasus Sports (AUS)
Quick Step (BEL)
HTC - Highroad (GBR)
The Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project (LUX)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator (BEL)
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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