• The peloton during the 2015 edition of the Tour of Oman (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The Muscat Municipality will decide the future of the Tour of Oman after the seventh edition that starts Tuesday.
By
Sophie Smith

Source:
Cycling Central
16 Feb 2016 - 7:36 AM  UPDATED 16 Feb 2016 - 8:00 AM

The Muscat Municipality will decide the future of the Tour of Oman after the seventh edition that starts Tuesday.

The body has not committed to funding past the 2016 event, which former Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Richie Porte (BMC) and Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) will contest.

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

“They will decide after this edition of the tour. It all depends on how successful it will be,” Muscat Municipality committee member Salim bin Mubarak Al Hasani told local and international media in a press conference on Monday.

PauMer race organiser Eddy Merckx has said everything is down to the Municipality adding it has no aspirations, unlike Tour of Qatar stakeholders, to be part of the reformed UCI WorldTour in 2017.

Merckx said he was positive about a favourable outcome stemming from the 2016 stage race he has tipped will be more competitive than previous years with decisive mountains featuring from day one.

“The Minister of Tourism also is very positive because cycling is the only sport that shows the country and Oman is a nice country,” Merckx said.

“We will discuss (contracts) with the Municipality. Normally it is three years.”

The tour generated controversy last year when riders, to the discord of race organisers, observed a strike and stopped under a bridge during the fifth stage. Extreme weather reportedly in excess 40°C was attributed to multiple punctures on hot tarmac that the peloton deemed dangerous.

Merckx on Monday openly said the race organisation made a “mistake” neutralising the stage on a descent, which he said forced riders to brake more slowly and caused the mechanicals.

“Some riders say it (the temperature) was dangerous but normally at another start it’s not dangerous,” he said. “In Australia (it’s) more than 40 degrees. It was not 40 degrees last year. With the sandstorm we had to change the start and that was a mistake.”

Temperatures are not expected to exceed 28°C this week and rain has also been forecast.

Porte will mark his second race of the season with new team BMC in Oman following the Tour Down Under in which he won the queen stage on Willunga. The 31-year-old, when asked on Monday, said he was in support of the continuation of the Tour of Oman.

“Cycling is trying to evolve into a global sport so you’ve got to keep races like this,” Porte said.