The third edition of the Tour of Oman starts on Tuesday, February 14, and runs until Sunday, February 19 2012.
Although it’s often lumped in together with the preceding Tour of Qatar in the Middle East, the Tour of Oman is a very different sort of race and for one reason: hills.
This year’s edition has dispensed with the individual time trial of last year, but again features a finish up Green Mountain on stage five. The riders face over 1,200 metres of elevation gain on this stage and it’s likely to be the race decider.
Classics specialists will use the race to further fine-tune their form ahead of their imminent spring campaign in Europe, and sprinters will have an opportunity to win on the flatter stages.
Climbers will have a chance to test their legs on stage five. Last year’s race was won by Dutch climber Robert Gesink after he soloed to win on Green Mountain.
The Tour of Oman last year was the scene of Mark Cavendish‘s first win of the season before peaking his form to win the Tour de France green jersey and World Championship road race.
This season, Cavendish has said that he wants to do the rainbow jersey justice and take wins whenever he can for new squad Sky. With two stage victories in Qatar already in the bag, you can bet on the Manx Missile to be gunning for more glory in Oman – as long as he’s recovered from a nasty final stage crash in Qatar.
Many of the 16 teams taking part will use either the same or similar line-ups as they did in Qatar, swapping from one plush hotel to another.
Neither Gesink nor 2010 and 2011 runner-up Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) are on the start list this year, so we may see one of the Grand Tour contenders have a stab at glory. Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Barracuda) and 2010 Oman winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) are all down to ride and will likely feature in the top ten.
In addition to Cavendish, Britain is represented at the race by in-form Adam Blythe (BMC Racing), David Millar (Garmin-Barracuda), Alex Coutts (RTS Racing), Lee Rodgers (RTS Racing), Ian Stannard (Sky) and Jeremy Hunt (Sky).
Tour of Oman 2012: Latest news
Tour of Oman 2012: Stage reports
Tour of Oman 2012: Photo galleries
Tour of Oman 2012: Stages
Stage 1, Tuesday 14 February: Al Alam Royal Palace to Wadi Al Hoqay, 159km
Stage 2, Wednesday 15 February: Surto Wadi Dayqah Dam, 140.5km
Stage 3, Thursday 16 February: Al Awabi (Al Alya) to Muscat Heights (Bank Muscat HQ), 144.5km
Stage 4, Friday 17 February: Bidbid (Nafa’a) to Al Wadi Al Kabir, 142.5km
Stage 5, Saturday 18 February: Royal Opera House, Muscat to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), 158km
Stage 6, Sunday 19 February: Al Khawd to Matrah Corniche, 130.5km
Tour of Oman 2012: Teams
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Bridgestone Anchor (Japan)
Champion System (China)
Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli (Italy)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Omega Pharma-Quickstep (Belgium)
Project 1t4i (Netherlands)
RTS Racing Team (Taiwan)
Sky (Great Britain)
Tour of Oman 2012: TV coverage
Highlights of the race will be shown on British Eurosport on the day following each stage
Wednesday, February 15, 12.00-12.30pm, Stage 1 highlights, BE2
Thursday, February 16, 12.00-12.30pm, Stage 2 highlights, BE2
Friday, February 17, 11.00-11.30am, Stage 3 highlights, BE2
Saturday, February 18, 11.00-11.30am, Stage 4 highlights, BE2
Sunday, February 19, 10.30-11.00am, Stage 5 highlights, BE2
Monday, February 20, 11.00-11.30am, Stage 6 highlights, BE2
Robert Gesink topped the 2011 Tour of Oman podium
Tour of Oman: Last year’s top ten (2011)
1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky at 1-13
3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini at 1-19
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad at 1-52
5. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 2-04
6. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek at 2-11
7. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step at 2-13
8. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 2-19
9. Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Farnese Vini at 2-51
10. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Sky at 3-03
Tour of Oman previous winners
2011: Robert Gesink
2010: Fabian Cancellara