Stephen Topping 22/2/2013
Tour of Oman
Team Sky’s faith in Chris Froome paid off last week, as 2012’s Tour de France runner-up claimed an impressive victory in the Tour of Oman. It may not carry the same prestige as the annual dash through France, but the Tour of Oman is a tough test for any cyclist. The Omani mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for a gruelling six days of climbing in warm temperatures.
Chris Froome’s stock has risen considerably with victory by the Persian Gulf. The 27-year-old claimed the leader’s red jersey in the fourth stage of the Tour, before extending his winning margin to 27 seconds with a fifth stage victory – a lead he held to the end of the Tour on Saturday.
The Tour hadn’t started great for Froome though. He ended day one in 53rd position, and after the third stage he was 36 seconds behind the then-leader Peter Sagan in 13th place. Yet ‘Froomy’ shone on day four, with his second place finish giving him an overall tour lead of 24 seconds.
The Tour was less successful for Olympic gold medallist and reigning Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins, who did well to finish in 74th place after a crash in the first stage left him in last position for the night. Team Sky weren’t too disheartened with Wiggins’ performance though, as they backed Froome to lead the team from the start. Having given Froome the role of team leader for this year’s Tour de France over ‘Wiggo’ last November, the Tour of Oman was a crucial test for the Kenyan-born cyclist. With the ‘King of the Road’ being five years Froome’s senior, it is clear that Team Sky and Dave Brailsford are looking to the future by giving ‘Froome Dog’ a chance to establish himself for future tours. He will no doubt have impressed British Cycling’s main man.
Froome’s victory in Oman capped a successful February for British cycling, after Mark Cavendish claimed his Tour of Qatar victory two weeks ago in style with four stage victories in a row. With Cavendish now competing for Team Sky’s rivals Omega Pharma-QuickStep, and Froome racing alongside Wiggins, 2013 is shaping up to be another exciting year in road cycling.