Tour of Oman 2015 – Stage 5 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Oman 2015 – Stage 5 Preview

By David Hunter

Al Sawadi Beach – Ministry of Housing 151km


What got the expected fireworks on Green Mountain, but a surprise result. It was Rafael Valls of Lampre-Merida taking a shock win, in front of my pick Van Garderen. Despite that win, the race isn’t over. This stage is very demanding with 4 ascents of the tough climb of Bousher Al Amerat. They do the climb in two different directions and the average gradient is 8.8% and 6.8%. The more challenging side is tackled on the first and third ascent. From the final climb, the riders have 12.5km until the finishing line.

This stage has been in the past two editions of the race. In 2013, they only covered the climb three times but we had attacks all day long. Chris Froome took the stage in a three up sprint, against Contador and Rodriguez. Only 10 riders finished within 10 seconds of Froome.

In 2014, we covered the climb 4 times and the stage was won by Peter Sagan. Again, we had 3 men get away from the peloton: Sagan, Nibali and Uran. We also had more riders finishing within 10 seconds, 23 in total. The stage was held before the Green Mountain, but after it in 2013. This does make a difference.

After such a demanding day, the riders are going to be tired and if a team really wants to light it up, the peloton will be very small.

The pressure is all on Lampre-Merida. They don’t have the strongest team and will have to rely upon Rui Costa and Pippo Pozzato to do a huge amount of work. BMC have the strongest team here and will want to make the pace very fast. A rider like Greg Van Avermaet will be very important today. Clearly in top form, he will be tasked with the job of putting the peloton under pressure. They will try to increase the speed on each climb, before allowing Van Garderen to attack on the final climb. The American is a wonderful TT rider, so the downhill run to the line will be easy for him. He might even wait until that point before attacking. Valls is nowhere near the same level as TJ.

The interests of other teams might just help Lampre. Peter Sagan still hasn’t won a stage this year and he has a great chance here. No sprinters will be left and Sagan will be. This stage has his name all over it. If he goes away with Van Garderen, the American will be quite glad to have some help. Sagan can have the stage and TJ the GC.

Rui Costa doesn’t seem to be in the best form, so it’s going to be up to Pozzato. Thankfully, the Italian seems to having a bit of a renaissance. 4th on stage 2, the fate of Valls is in his hands. No pressure then Pippo! That being said, Costa did much better on the Green Mountain, so Valls will be praying he can hang around. But only 2 riders to contain the race is going to make things very hard.

When thinking about who could win, two scenarios need to be considered. TJ might take an elite group of climbers off the front and they fight for the win or Lampre and others(Tinkoff) hold it together for a small sprint. So you need to have a good climber, who can also sprint.

If it’s climbers you want, they here they come: TJ, Valls, Majka, Arredondo, Nibali, Moreno, Valverde, Pinot, Barguil, Meintjes and Meyer. If it’s durable fast men, we have: Sagan, Van Avermaet, Cancellara, EBH, Colbrelli, Battaglin, Boonen and Rojas.

I can’t see any of the other teams helping Lampre, apart from Tinkoff – Saxo. Sagan should really be winning this stage, so they will work to help make this happen. That being said, the definitive move might come earlier than the last climb and Sagan might be in it. That means it’ll back over to Lampre! Can they cope?

Valls only leads Van Garderen by 9 seconds and Valverde by 19. The stage certainly suits Valverde the most. The short, steep climbs are right up his street and his fast finish means he can win from a small bunch and take crucial bonus seconds. We have 10, 6 and 4 for the first three across the line and sprint points at 30km and on the crest of the 2nd climb. Movistar could try and hold the race together for the opening sprint, but Lampre will let Modolo take the top spot, denying the 3 seconds. Movistar know this and I doubt they will attempt such a foolish tactic.

The bonus points on the top of the 2nd climb is achievable. Bring the break back and Valverde could easily take the 3 seconds and bring him right back into contention. With so many things that could happen, all is set for a great stage.

Prediction Time

No matter what type of ending we get, Sagan will be there and he will win! I expect a small group of GC riders going clear: Van Garderen, Valverde, Moreno, Majka and Sagan. Sagan for the stage and Van Garderen for the overall. Poor little Valls, ain’t going to cope.

David Hunter

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