Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 3 Preview

Course:

The sprinters should come to the fore on Stage 3 of the Tour of Oman, stealing the limelight back from the puncheurs and climbers who have dominated proceedings up to now in this race. The latter part of the day rolls downwards to the finish at Naseem Park after 176.5km of racing, likely to prove the perfect drag race for the fast men to contest the win.
Oman
Contenders:

Alexander Kristoff is sure to be the man to beat on Stage 2, the Norwegian appearing strong once again at the early part of the season and is surely poised to add to his 2016 tally. Edvald Boasson Hagen’s form has been scintillating so far this year and cannot be discounted from featuring here despite the lack of ideal terrain for the current race leader. Moreno Hofland is certainly a man to watch here as the leadout train at his disposal could rival that of Katusha if everything goes well, though he will really need to be on top form to better Kristoff in the anticipated sprint.

Outcome:

1st Alexander Kristoff 2nd Moreno Hofland 3rd Edvald Boasson Hagen

Advertisements
Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 2 Preview

Course:

After yesterday’s impressive move by Bob Jungels secured him a surprise victory, Stage 2 could once again throw up a shock thanks to its undulating finale. A total of 162km from Omantel Head Office to Quriyat will be undertaken by the riders on the second day in Oman, concluding with a 2.8km ascent (avg 6.5%) to a summit finish poised to lure the puncheurs to the fore once again.
Oman Stage 2

Contenders:

BMC worked tirelessly yesterday in an attempt to tee up Greg Van Avermaet for the win, but came unstuck in the wake of Jungels’ perfectly timed attack. The Belgian will wish to rectify this as soon as possible in order to keep him in the race for the overall title and he no doubt possesses the required form to do so right now. Romain Bardet impressed yesterday when securing himself a third place finish and should be in contention for the win on Stage 2 as well; the lithe climber perhaps calling upon his Liége-Bastogne-Liége skills to push for victory here. A man who hinted towards promising condition yesterday was former World Champion Rui Costa, a rider well worth considering against an uphill finish such as this.

Outcome:

1st Romain Bardet 2nd Rui Costa 3rd Greg Van Avermaet

Oman

Rapido Guide: Tour of Oman Stage 1

Course:

The opening stage of 2016’s Tour of Oman should prove to be a lively finish once again, avoiding the lazy cliché of these early Middle Eastern stage races being dull from start to finish. This 145.5km stage’s finale has featured previously in Oman’s schedule and has so far proven to be a difficult outcome to forecast, failing to favour a specific type of rider each year. A tailwind should reduce the chances of the pure sprinters contesting the win, so all eyes are bound to be upon a potent mix of puncheurs and strong classics riders.

Oman

Contenders:

BMC are eager to compete for the win here in Oman and Greg Van Avermaet should be first in line to the lead charge for the American-Swiss outfit in pursuit of the first leader’s jersey. The Belgian was very lively in Qatar, clearly entering this race in strong condition ahead of a tilt at the overall win. Edvald Boasson Hagen shall be a strong adversary though, possessing the sort of skills which make him a danger to Avermaet’s ambitions, the Norwegian being strong enough to force a move late on or dominate a reduced sprint if required. One outside bet worth keeping an eye upon is Gianluca Brambilla, this type of finish suits him nicely and his early season form has been encouraging thus far in 2016.

Outcome:

1st Greg Van Avermaet 2nd Edvald Boasson Hagen 3rd Gianluca Brambilla

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-6-Spokenforks-Preview

Anti-Climax – Tour of Oman Stage 6 Preview

After the building anticipation of who might come out all guns blazing on Stage 5, the day ultimately ended as a damp squib; cancelled after sandstorms and soaring temperatures left it too dangerous to contest. Because of this, Rafael Valls seems guaranteed the surprising victory of this year’s Tour of Oman; the final day left constructed for the sprinters to contest.

Course:

Beginning at Oman Airport, Stage 6 is a 133km ride to Matrah Corniche; where they will be expected to complete two city centre circuits before crowning the day’s winner. A few noteworthy bumps are present on the profile card, the first being Al Hamriyah after 89km of riding, a reasonable hill which leads the peloton down a gradual descent down to the subsequent intermediate sprint. This is then followed by the 1.4km run up Al Jissah; the 9% average gradient likely to seem familiar after appearing on Stage 2 already. A couple times around the 7km city circuit comprises the final 14km’s worth of racing; a brief incline at 3.5km on the second lap could see an attempted breakaway form. The flat road slinks through the streets, opening onto the finish after the last turn at the 400m mark.

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-6-Spokenforks-Preview Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-6-Spokenforks-Preview

Outcome:

It seems unlikely that anyone is going to prevent Rafael Valls from securing a major win, but it might be worth watching out for Alejandro Valverde. The Movistar rider is 19 seconds down, can sprint well and will view the earlier climbs as a nice way to soften the legs of the sprinters. Realistically, the Spaniard would need to win the stage (taking a time bonus) and gap Valls by several seconds further to overturn the lead.

Turning focus onto the likely contenders for a bunch kick trawls up the usual likes of Nacer BouhanniAlexander KristoffAndrea GuardiniMatteo Pelucchi and Sam Bennet. Despite having struggled to impress much this year, Bouhanni tends to perform well when the finale gets technical and sight of the finishing line comes late. The testing streets could diminish the benefit of a leadout train, meaning a more level playing field for the Cofidis star. Form is temporary, but Kristoff is certainly enjoying it while it lasts; the Katusha man will be a big favourite with the punters once again.

A duo which have shown great consistency thus far are Guardini and Pelucchi; it would come as no surprise to see at least one of them make the podium. One man who has gone missing since the first stage is the young Sam Bennet, a sprinter who could utilise his team’s support with great effect. He won the final day in Qatar having been one of the last home on the previous day; he may have been saving himself once again to finish with a bang.

1st Bouhanni 2nd Bennet 3rd Guardini

Le-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-11-Preview-

Going Home – Tour Of Oman Stage 5 Preview

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.

Course:

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.

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-5-Spokenforks-Preview
Outcome:

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 GarderenAlejandro ValverdeRafal MajkaThibaut 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 KristoffDaniel 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 CancellaraSonny 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

 

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-4-Preview-Spokenforks

Green On The Other Side – Tour Of Oman Stage 4 Preview

Though the last few days have provided plenty of entertainment and interest, they only truly served as an appetiser for the big showdown on Stage 4. For the fifth consecutive year, a battle royale is billed upon the devastating slopes of Green Mountain. This Queen Stage has repeatedly crowned its overall winner in its short history as part of the Tour of Oman; this year should be no different.

Course:

Running 189km from Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), the peloton will slink their way across the desert landscape; the day’s foe looming larger with every revolution. Tackling the major climbs proceeding terrain will not be effortless either; increasing the elevation in steps as they approach Green Moutain late on.

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-4-Preview-Spokenforks

As the riders whittle the distance from home down to 11km, the elevation of the road begins to build gently towards the real agony of Green Mountain. The peloton will already be absorbing the early ramps’ gradients of 6% – 9% when they turn onto the final 5.5km and encounter the real challenge. Opening with 2km’s worth of 10% gradients will come as a shock to many; having been racing in the Middle East for a couple of weeks now. Cranking immediately upwards to 12% for the following kilometre, a section of 6% (of what must feel like flat by then) will offer a short moment to breath a sigh of relief. It is the final 2km which will light fuses and send sparks flying as men begin sprawling over 13.5% worth of agony; to attack or endure here is the question. A stage winning and probably race winning move will go in these final two kilometres, but when it is timed will be crucial. The majority of those aiming for the overall win could afford to leave their attack later, as they do not need to worry about gaining or overturning time deficits. Others such as Joaquim Rodriguez or Vincenzo Nibali have the talent to win the stage, but would need around a minute on all other favourites to secure a leader’s jersey.

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-4-Preview-Spokenforks

 

Outcome:

Despite lacking Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, the field assembled to contest the Queen Stage is an embarrassment of riches in regards to climbing ability. Perhaps the most talented is Vincenzo Nibali, a man who thrives upon such devastating slopes so successfully he has won all three grand tours. It is unclear as to what form the Italian champion is in however; currently 56 seconds down on general classification. It seems extremely unlikely that ‘The Shark of Messina’ will overturn this to take the overall lead after Stage 4, he has spoken that his ambition in Oman would be to take a stage win though; there is no better.

Alejandro Valverde will be a marked man, sitting 2nd overall and already showing form beyond someone riding simply for race fitness. Realistically, the length and gradient do not suit him perfectly, but if he approaches the final kilometre as part of a diminished group, he might just run away with it. A man who will really see the absence of Froome and Contador as an opportunity to be seized upon, will be BMC’s Tejay Van Garderen. Often showing early season form, much has always been expected of the young climber and he knows how well this terrain suits him while sitting 10 seconds down on GC. BMC have also equipped him with a strong support team of Damiano Caruso, Peter Velits and Greg Van Avermaet to name a few. Froome was the only man to better him on a carbon copy of the day’s stage last year; a huge confidence boost to make his move upon.

One who could push Tejay to the limit in pursuit of victory is Tinkoff-Saxo’s Rafal Majka; the Pole displaying early flourishes of power on Stage 2. He should cope well with the terrain and mustering a winning performance is not beyond the Tour de France’s King of the Mountains. Others to keep a close eye upon include Jakob FuglslangDavid Arredondo and Jacques Janse van Rensburg who all sit within spitting distance of the overall lead. Losing so much time earlier in the week might afford Leopold Konig and Joaquim Rodriguez a chance to shoot off the front while others play cat and mouse; though both have left lots to be desired thus far. The sheer number of permutations possible makes it difficult to pick who will win atop Green Moutain. Overall contender or dark horse with nothing to lose? Regardless, Tejay Van Garderen must surely see Stage 4 as a pathway to a major career scalp; he should be leader by the end of the day.

1st Rafal Majka 2nd Tejay Van Garderen 3rd Jakob Fuglslang

Back In The Fast Lane – Tour Of Oman Stage 3 Preview

The conclusion of Stage 3’s 158.5km circuit out of Al Mussanah Sports City and back should result in another big sprint finish for the fast men. Without a bump on its profile worth mentioning, the day’s profile hardly requires an elevation guide alongside it.

Course:

Worrying so little about what comes between the start and finish could cause a lapse in concentration for some of the peloton, but alertness will be required as ever from the riders. Barren desert landscapes which blend onwards to the coast mean exposure to crosswinds is likely; should they decide to stir on the day. Teams will have to work hard to keep GC contenders at the front of affairs if the bunch begins fraying rapidly in the winds. Running parallel to the seafront, the final kilometres into the finish are extremely flat, meaning a fast bunch kick should crown the victor on Stage 3.

Tour-Of-Oman-Stage-3-PreviewTour-Of-Oman-Stage-3-Preview

Outcome:

It should be an incredibly quick sprint for the win, favouring Nacer Bouhanni, Sam Bennet, Andrea Guardini and Tom Boonen. All four have shown they are taking these early season races seriously and will certainly be eager to add to their hauls so far or open their 2015 account. No doubt ‘Mr.Consistent’ Peter Sagan will place in the top ten as expected; any chance of him winning reduced by such a drag race of a finish however.

1st Bennet 2nd Guardini 3rd Boonen