• The peloton makes its way up the Al Hamriyah climb during Stage 2 of the 2015 Tour of Oman (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Richie Porte Vincenzo Nibali, Romain Bardet and Tom Dumoulin will headline the 16-21 February Tour of Oman.
Cycling Central

5 Feb 2016 - 12:40 PM  UPDATED 12 Feb 2016 - 12:06 PM

Eighteen teams have been selected to take part in the 7th edition of the race including those of the quartet of high quality Grand Tour performers, BMC, Astana, AG2R and Giant-Alpecin.

SBS will make 30 minutes of daily highlights from the 2016 Tour of Oman available OnDemand at the Cycling Central website when the race starts on 16 February.

Also included from the WorldTour are Etixx-QuickStep, Lampre-Merida, Dimension Data, LottoNL-Jumbo and Katusha.

Riding alongside the top level teams will be a collection of ProContinental outfits including Australia's Drapac, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Wanty Groupe Gobert, Cult Energy Stolting, Fortuneo Vital Concept, Bora-Argon 18, Roompot-Oranje Peloton, CCC Sprandi Polkowice and United Healthcare.

Organisers have set a more demanding course for the 900km, six stage race which features an extended climb of Green Mountain on Stage 4.

The ascent of the "Queen Stage" of the race has increased in difficulty with 1.8km of road added, bringing the total distance to 7.5km, with an average gradient of 10.7 per cent.

The stage will serve as a useful guide in gauging the training progress of the key general classification contenders as they prepare for the big three week races to come.

The sprinters will have their opportunities when race opens with a fast finish in Al Bustan then another at the Ministry of Tourism offices before the finale on the Muttrah Corniche.

Spaniard Rafael Valls of Lampre-Merida is the defending champion.

Tour of Oman stages:
Tuesday 16 February, Stage 1: Oman Exhibition Center to Al Bustan, 145.5km
Wednesday 17 February, Stage 2: Omantel Head Office to Quriyat, 162km
Thursday 18 February, Stage 3: Al Sawadi Beach to Naseem Park, 176.5km
Friday 19 February, Stage 4: Knowledge Oasis Muscat to Jabal Al Akhdar, 177km
Saturday 20 February, Stage 5: Yiti (Al Sifah) to Ministry of Tourism, 119.5km
Sunday 21 February, Stage 6: The Wave Muscat to Muttrah Corniche, 130.5km