• Close in 2016, Romain Bardet will push for the Tour of Oman overall win. (Getty)Source: Getty
The 2017 edition of the Tour of Oman begins on Tuesday with Romain Bardet among the favourites at one of the most picturesque events in world cycling.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
ASO
13 Feb 2017 - 11:18 AM  UPDATED 13 Feb 2017 - 11:46 AM

The peloton will tackle six stages totalling 885km through the heart of the Sultanate of Oman with the Queen stage a summit finish on Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) with a 5.7km climb and average gradient of 10.5 per cent.

The Tour of Oman runs from 14 to the 19 February and is an early opportunity for riders to test their climbing legs. In between two sprint-friendly stages to suit speedsters like Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), the punchier riders will have their chances to surprise the peloton.

Finishes on the Al Jissah climb at Al Bustan and in Quriyat are tailor-made for opportunistic attackers like current Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).

"The 2017 season has already started win a win and time in the yellow jersey in Valencia, so I'm looking forward to continuing my season at the Tour of Oman," van Avermaet said. "It's a hard race but my form is good, so I'll be on the look out for stage wins where possible."

Tour of Oman daily highlights will be available on demand at Cycling Central.

The general classification race will be decided on the slopes of Green Mountain, with Bardet (AG2R), Fabio Aru (Astana), Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) four of the riders likely to feature.

Bardet was the runner-up to eventual winner Chris Froome (Sky) at the Tour de France and the groundwork of his ambition to go one better in 2017 begins in Oman.

He finished second to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) in the 2016 edition of Oman and will hope to test the effectiveness of his off season training with an eye to the overall victory.

"There were no major changes compared to previous years because we don’t change our work method," Bardet said. "We just fine-tuned some of the training sessions, for example on the positions, but they were only adjustments.

"I have progressed over the past six years, and we know how to work during the winter to arrive at a strong level for the return to competition. I have reliable training benchmarks, and I'm glad I worked hard this winter.

"A six-day race is the right format to put in the mileage, especially since the weather will be mild, while the winter is quite severe this year in Europe. I have the feeling there will be real opportunities to put in a strong race, which for me is motivating.

"I feel both stronger and more mature, after a 2016 season that was decisive concerning my confidence. I can’t wait for this season to start but at the same time, I know how things go. And I know very well that you cannot waste your energy in February."

Tour of Oman 2017 stages
Tuesday 14 February, Stage 1: Al Sawadi Beach - Naseem Park (176.5km)
Wednesday 15 February, Stage 2: Nakhal - Al Bustan (145.5km)
Thursday 16 February, Stage 3: Sultan Qaboos University - Quriyat (162km)
Friday 17 February, Stage 4: Yiti - Ministry of Tourism (118km)
Saturday 18 February, Stage 5: Samail - Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) (152.5km)
Sunday 19 February, Stage 6: The Wave - Muttrah Corniche (130.5km)