Tour of Oman 2015 – Overall Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Oman 2015 – Overall Preview

By David Hunter

The racing in the Middle East comes to an end with 6 stages in Oman. The race is a nice mix of sprint stages, tough stages and the big mountain stage to Green Mountain. Let’s start by taking a look at the stages.

oman1Stage 1 is one for the sprinters and we have quite a few here: Guardini, Kristoff, Rojas, Demare, Van Poppel, Arndt, Boonen, Bouhanni, Modolo, Goss, Blythe, Pelucchi, Bennett and Colbrelli.

oman2Stage 2 packs a punch with a climb of 800metres at 10% just 5.5km from the end. This should be enough to remove the pure sprinters, but it could also reward a late solo attacker.

oman3Stage 3 is a very easy day in the saddle and another for the sprinters.

oman4Stage 4 will settle the GC, with the climb of Green Mountain. Former winners here include Velits, Froome and Rodriguez.

oman5Stage 5 is another regular with the Ministry of Housing circuit, known well to most riders. It’s a very demanding stage that usually results in a small peloton reaching the finish together.

oman6

The race finishes with another day for the sprinters. Will Kristoff continue to dominate the sprints?

Defending champion, Chris Froome, is not here. He’s chosen to ride in Andulucia instead. That opens up the race a bit and quite a few riders will have their eye on the overall win.

The GC riders are Nibali, Van Garderen, Majka, Rodriguez, Valverde, Jeannesson, Arredondo, Rui Costa, Meintjes, Meyer, Weening, Frank, Nerz, Konig, Poels, Barguil, Zardini and Bongiorno.

Going on 2014 form, it should be a fight between Nibali, Van Garderen, Majka, Rodriguez, Valverde, Rui Costa and Konig.

The Tour de France champion, Vincenzo Nibali, is always hard to judge at this time of the season. A crucial factor is usually his inclusion in Tirreno Adriatico. When Nibali has this race as a target, he usually starts the season well. This year, he returns to Tirreno, so watch out for him here. He got some miles in his legs, during the Dubai Tour, he’ll be gunning for this race. His climbing skills are obviously in his favour but so are stages 2 and 5. He is capable of riding away from the peloton on descents, not just when the road goes up!

Tejay Van Garderen was 2nd here in 2014. The American always starts the season well. He intends on riding Paris-Nice and Catalunya, so expect him to be in good form already. He arrives with a very strong team to help, including their two new Italian riders: Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi. Both these guys would be team leaders in a lot of squads but here they have to help Tejay. BMC have the strongest team this week, this should be a big help to the American.

Team Katusha arrive with duel goals: stage wins for Kristoff and the GC for Rodriguez. Like Nibali, he was in Dubai for training purposes and now should be at race level. Dani Moreno started the season well in San Luis, he’ll provide excellent support here. 2014 was not a great year for the Spaniard. Is he on the slide or was it just a bad year?

Alejandro Valverde arrives with a lot of racing already in his legs. He competed in 3 of the Challenge Mallorca races, the Dubai Tour and the Tour of Qatar. He has the most racing completed of all the GC contenders.  He didn’t start the last stage in Qatar, due to illness, that would be my only concern. Like Nibali, he is brilliant when descending. The GC favourites need to keep a close eye on him, when the road goes downhill.

Team Sky have two options in Leo Konig and Wout Poels. Konig started the season well, in Mallorca, and has the capability to threaten the podium. Poels has been training with Chris Froome, in Africa. Expect him to be very fit and ready for a fast start with his new team. Decisions about leadership will be taken on the road.

Another rider with good form is Cameron Meyer. He’s fresh from winning the Sun Tour but usually struggles in the big events. That being said, he does look to have reached a new level in his career. My expectations are higher than usual for Meyer. If he disappoints, Orica still have the consistent, Pieter Weening.

Free from the shackles of the rainbow jersey is Rui Costa. He ended the season with 3rd in Il Lombardia and 4th in Beijing. This was a very strong finish to the year. He’s another that usually shines at the start of the year, usually impressing in the Algarve and Paris-Nice. He won’t be far away.

Rafal Majka is usually a very slow starter to the year. 2014 was better than most people expected and Majka has really stepped up into the elite rider category. Does that mean he’ll deliver all year round?

Prediction Time

The best rider here is Vincenzo Nibali, but will he be at his best? If not, Alejandro Valverde won’t be far away. Their ability to win stages 2 and 5 is a big plus for them. Van Garderen shouldn’t be far away and will probably round out the podium spots.

David Hunter

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