After possibly the greatest battle the Tour of Oman has ever witnessed, Red Jersey, Christopher Froome, captured his very first stage win on the race, only just beating Contador and Rodriguez to the line in Boshar. The leader of Team Sky therefore comforts his overall leadership with one day to go.
Stage 5: Al Alam Palace – Ministry of Housing in Boshar, 144 km
141 riders at the start, 1 non-starter: Sagan (CAN). Sunny, light wind
After yesterday’s demanding stage up to the Green Mountain, it was an early start for the 141 remaining riders of the Tour of Oman, for stage 5 of the event. While former race leader and two-time stage winner Peter Sagan was forced to quit, ill, the pack took off just after ten o’clock for a 144 km ride to Boshar and the Ministry of Housing.
Surprisingly, the race started under some very rare clouds in Oman, in other words the cooler conditions were ideal for a cycling race, and a difficult stage it would be. After a very fast start, 9 men broke away after 11 kilometres: Stybar, Trentin (both OPQ), Van Avermaet (BMC), Irizar (RLT), Hernandez (TST), Grivko (AST), Kuchynski (KAT), Minard (ALM) and Schillinger (TNE). At km 20, they could enjoy a 1’35 lead that grew to 2’45 at the first intermediate sprint (km 60.4), won by Stybar ahead of Minard and Kuchynski.
First at the top of the first climb of the day at Boucher Alamrat (km 102) was Hernandez in front of Stybar and Schillinger, while the pack remained 2’35 adrift. On the second climb of the hill, the real battle between the favourites started. Again Hernandez was first to the top (km 116.5) in front of Stybar and Van Avermaet, but only with a very slim 15” lead over Contador (TST), eager to fight it out, and 18” over Froome (SKY).
All the breakaway riders were finally caught at km 120. On the third and final climb, Contador continued attacking, never quite getting rid of Froome, while Green Jersey Gallopin (RLT), title holder Velits (OPQ) and Wiggins (SKY) were dropped well behind. Three men eventually managed to breakaway: Contador, Rodriguez and Froome, reaching the top in that order. Their gap grew on the descent on a group of 7 men including Cadel Evans. With 3 kilometres left, the front three had a 20” lead over the Evans group. It finally came down to a three-man sprint won by Froome, in front of Contador and Rodriguez, Evans crossing the finish line just 4” adrift.
In the new overall standings, with one stage to go, Froome now has a 27” lead over Contador and 39” over Evans. Thanks to his success, he also captures the lead in the points’ classification (Green Jersey). Elissonde (FDJ) remains best young rider and Traksel, most aggressive rider.