The Tour of Oman could be rescheduled for early March after being cancelled following the death of Sultan Qaboos, who had ruled the Middle Eastern country since 1970.
Instead of the original February 11-16 date, race organiser ASO is now looking into the possibility of holding the six-stage race from March 3-8, according to WielerFlits.
ASO are currently contacting teams to gauge interest for the rescheduled ProSeries race, which would clash with some other, more prominent events.
Strade Bianche takes place on March 7, while Paris-Nice begins the following day on March 8. It is also positioned after the opening weekend of racing in Belgium, featuring Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Riders such as Mark Cavendish (Bahrain McLaren) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) were expected to take part in the Tour of Oman but the death of the longest-serving ruler in the Arab world will be marked by a national 40-day mourning period, which has resulted in the cancellation of numerous sporting and music events. No official cause of death has been given, although reports suggest he may have been suffering from cancer.
Viviani will now race at the Volta ao Algarve, while the other eight WorldTour teams who were originally down to take part will now have to decide if going to the rescheduled race compliments their riders’ start to the season. Should the race go ahead, the date change and clashes with other races could see the quality of the start list drop significantly.
Previously, the 2.Pro category race first held in 2010, has been a popular early-season opener for some big-name riders, particularly the sprinters owing to the mostly flat terrain.
The race forms part of a month-long racing period in the Middle East, starting with the new Tour of Saudi Arabia, then Oman, and ending with the UAE Tour, the only WorldTour event in the region.