Green Mountain lived up to the expectations of fireworks, when Rafael Valls put in a shock performance to beat all major contenders and take the stage; along with the leaders jersey too. The result will have a knock on effect as to how the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Tejay Van Garderan will approach Stage 5; if they wish to overturn the deficit to Valls. This is the last chance for the overall favourites to impact upon the General Classification before the final day’s treat for the sprinters.
Beginning at Al Sawadi Beach, the riders will have to cover 151km and several testing circuits, before finishing at The Ministry of Housing. Only after reaching the 86km mark will the peloton turn onto the first of the laps; comprising the last 65km of racing for the leader’s jersey in Oman. They will be tasked with climbing Bousher Alamrat from two angles on these circuits; first at 8.8% gradient for 3.4km and then 6.8% at 3.2km. Once all rotations of this have been complete, the riders will turn onto the final 12.5km, of which start with a downhill section towards the Ministry of Housing. This will soon become simple flat terrain to navigate in the final kilometres; finishing upon an 8m wide road in the final 300 meters.
A handful of pre-race favourites remain in contention for the overall win, despite Valls incredible effort on Green Mountain. This will surely set the stage for some last ditch efforts in an attempt to send Valls out the back before the final descent to the finish. Tejay Van Garderen, Alejandro Valverde, Rafal Majka, Thibaut Pinot and Rui Costa all finished less than 50 seconds back to the current leader after Stage 4. BMC’s Van Garderen will have Greg Van Avermaet to work alongside him, but the Belgian might see a greater opportunity to take a stage win than support his leader’s attempt to beat Valls. Should they achieve kicking Valls out the back convincingly enough, the support of GVA might be returned by setting him up for the win later on.
Valverde has looked in good condition so far and has the capability to push it on the hill repetitions, as well as staying away on the downhill section. He should remain in the mix all day, but might just be lacking his top form right now. Two men who might find success here are Peter Sagan and Rui Costa; both able to sprint well after a tough day, as long as they stay in contention. Sagan has performed well on this course before and will no doubt be eager to build upon it to take his first win of 2015. The descent towards the finish is particularly typical of a late Sagan attack; a man known for his suicidal descending. Former World Champion Rui Costa should not be ignored either for the stage win, but it seems unlikely he would manage to gain 1′ 45″ on the entire peloton to take the overall lead.
Team Katusha certainly have options on paper; Alexander Kristoff, Daniel Moreno and Luca Paolini have all won on similarly finishing races in the past. Beyond that of Kristoff, it is hard to gauge where their form sits at present, but Stage 5 could be a perfect time for the Russian team to find out. Others worth keeping an eye upon are Fabian Cancellara, Sonny Colbrelli and Damiano Caruso; especially if a small group splinters off the front late on.
1st Greg Van Avermaet 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Daniel Moreno