Tour of Oman Preview

Monday, 11 February 2013

Tour of Oman

This is one the early season highlights. What first started as a tourist promotion is now a full race in its own right.

Arid landscapes and deserted roads make this an attractive race to watch but the real draw is the startlist. We have last year’s Tour de France podium present with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali plus Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and many more including last year’s winner Peter Velits.

The only thing missing is live TV but there are daily highlights on Eurosport. Here’s a quick preview with stage profiles, TV listings and more.

Star list
As well as the names above, add Joaquim Rodriguez, Domenico Pozzovivo, Arnold Jeanneson and Dario Cataldo, the Cuitu Nigru stage winner in the Vuelta, and you’ve got an impressive cast when the road goes uphill. Sky’s Richie Porte should be given a chance to shine before riding in the service of others later this year.

Plus Tom Boonen’s back in action with Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan along with Gianni Meersman and Rinaldo Nocentini for the punchy finishes.

For the sprints it’s interesting because Mark Cavendish and André Greipel are not there. These two have dominated the sprints and made winning look easy so in their absence we’ll have to see if someone can take over. Look for the the Argos-Shimano tandem of Kittel and Degenkolb and then add Elia Viviani, Nacer Bouhanni, Daniele Bennati, Matt Goss and Vacansoleil-DCM’s three vans: Van Hummel and the Van Poppel brothers. Plus will Taylor Phinney sprint?

If you want to watch younger prospects, follow Kenny Elissonde, Joe Dombrowski and Tony Gallopin, last year’s best young rider.

Stage 1
A contest for the sprinters with a flat finish and wide roads. André Greipel won here last year.
Stage 2
The race starts near the Bidb id fort but it’s the end that will see the hostilities with some tough hills at the finish before a fast descent to finish near the race HQ and hotel.

Stage 3
The same finish as last year at the Wadi Dayqah damn where Peter Sagan won with an impressive uphill sprint.

Stage 4
The big mountain stage with the summit finish. It’s only 5.6km but 10% long meaning a 20 minute effort. Above all it’s got steep ramps at 12% and more meaning there’s no where to hide. Here’s the profile to the finish:

Jebel Ahkdar Green Mountain profile
This is the Queen stage and should settle the overall. Above all it’s a good test for all the big names in the race.

Stage 5
There’s still plenty of climbing here as the bunch tackles the landmark hairpin bends from Bawshaw to Al Amrat and back again, 3.6km at 10% several times. A tactical play could steal the race lead or a break will win the day.

Stage 6
The final stage starts at the Al Shaitan sinkhole, Shaitan is Arabic for Satan but hopefully there’s no bad luck for the riders today as they head for the finish on the Corniche in Mutrah.

Time Bonuses
There are 3-2-1 seconds for the first three at the intermediate sprints and 10-6-4 seconds on the finish line of each stage.

Prizes
There’s €10,000 for the overall winner and each stage lands €3,615. Overall the prize pot is €111,480

  • Stages classification: €54,330
  • General individual time classification: €37,150
  • Points classification: €5,000
  • Young rider classification: €5,000
  • Most aggressive rider classification: €5,000
  • Team classification: €5,000

Points
This is an HC-rated race where plenty of points are available for the overall places.

TV
Eurosport logoIt is being filmed but it won’t be live on TV. Instead there will be a daily highlights package on Eurosport at 10.00am Euro time the day after each stage.

This isn’t as good as live TV but worth watching for the scenery although last year’s edition seemed overproduced with a filter to make the desert and mountain landscapes seem even more arid. Be sure to watch Stages 4 and 5 for the climbing so you can see how the big names do.

Hotel
A note that all the riders are lodged in the Al Jissah resort, part of the Shangri La chain of luxury resorts. Whilst riders were complaining of the spartan hotels, plain cooking and stolen bikes in the Tour Med last week, the Oman peloton gets treated to fine accommodation and a spread of food so generous that team managers get nervous when the riders approach. It’s good for morale if only temporarily. Riders will be pleased that last year’s high speed ferry transfer isn’t back. Delays and sea-sickness didn’t help some.

Oman
The Velocast guys described this race as “everything the Tour of Qatar is not” and that works. These are two Arabian nations ruled by Sultans but quite different. Oman has history, mountains, a wide network of roads and a large population of locals, especially a big demographic of under-25s and expect to see them out by the road in the traditional white dishdasha dress with the kummah cap. Unlike Qatar, Oman doesn’t have as much oil or gas. It has plenty but the country is keen for tourism so this race is used to showcase the landscapes.

They like their coffee in Oman

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{ 14 comments }

Sam February 11, 2013 at 10:49 am

Really disappointed that there’s no live coverage. This shouldnt be allowed to happen for a WT race

Niklas February 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

Well, this isn’t a WorldTour race.

Peter February 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

Sam, Tour of Oman isn’t a WT event. It’s a good early season race, but from the TDU, the next WT race is Paris-Nice.

Regards,

Peter

Sam February 11, 2013 at 11:47 am

Niklas, Peter: thanks for corrrecting me.

(still grumpy about no livestreams though)

The Inner Ring February 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm

No problems here, you see the startlist and it’s almost WT. There’s a good chance we won’t see these names all racing together again until the Tour de France.

Mike de Garry February 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

Excellent preview by inrng.
I didn’t know there was a 1100m climb in this race!
:-)

James powers February 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Sorry, pedant alert the Amirat climb is from Bousher. New best time this morning thanks for asking :) I understand the lack of live coverage is down to Omani restrictions?

The Inner Ring February 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Lucky you. Much of Europe has snow today.

They do both sides in the race, the hairpins in the Bousher side and the straight version from Amirat too, back and forth.

James February 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Yes I know I was commenting more on the spellings. I know sorry. Although to be fair they spell place names on road signs differently to keep you on your toes.
Any idea why the different start time (10am) for stage 6. that means the climbs of the col d’amirat (or amerat depending on what road sign you follow) will be at the hottest part of the day iirc the heat was nasty on jak last year.

Ronan February 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

The first line reads: What first started as a tourist promotion is now a full right in its own right.

That should be a ‘full race in its own right’, I think. /pedant

Brian February 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Good write up. This should be fun to see all these big names for the first time together. Still too early to show your cards but should be exciting for us!

Al February 11, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Somewhat odd on Stage 5 that the Al Amrat summit on the first two passes gets KoM points, but on the third is inexplicably a sprint?

Nick Evans February 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

For what it’s worth, Qatar isn’t ruled by a Sultan, but by an Emir. (Though it’s not one of the United Arab Emirates.)

Anonymous February 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I used to go to Oman a lot in the 80s when my folks worked out there (down in Mugshayl about 100km from Salalah in the South, building a monstrous road up the escarpment – if you want to see it it’s a bit east from there: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Mughsayl,+Dhofar,+Oman&hl=en&ll=16.880857,53.748465&spn=0.062256,0.077248&sll=16.750633,53.434753&sspn=0.996774,1.235962&oq=mug,+Dhofar,+Oman&hnear=Mughsayl,+Oman&t=h&z=14).

I’d always thought it’d be a good place for riding due to the mountains and open roads, so lots of crosswinds, heat, and tough, unforgiving climbs. It’s been years since I’ve gone back but Muscat and the surrounding country is well developed, and I remember going to the Al Bustan Palace in 1987 when it’d just opened and it was pretty luxurious back then (http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/AlBustan/Default.htm).

It must be the only stage race on the calendar that ends in anywhere called Ministry of Housing.

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