Team Sky’s Chris Froome is set to win the biggest race to date of his career in the Tour of Oman after consolidating his lead by winning today’s penultimate stage despite a strong challenge from Alberto Contador, who had started the day third overall, 25 seconds behind.
Froome prevailed in a three-way sprint finish at the Ministry of Housing in Boshar, with the Saxo-Tinkoff rider second and Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez, fifth overall on GC at the start of the stage and 45 seconds off the race lead, placing third.
With a sprinter-friendly stage tomorrow bringing this year's race to a close, today represented the only realistic chance for Contador to try and take the race lead from Froome, who according to David Millar is the only rider the Spaniard truly fears.
There’s a lot of racing between now and the Tour de France starting at the end of June, and early season races aren’t necessarily the best indicator of form, but Froome’s victory today will only reinforce his credentials as one of Contador's chief rivals this summer.
A tough parcours today which included three climbs of the Bousher Alamrat saw attacks throughout, with eight riders getting away early on in the 144km stage from the Al Alam Palace.
Sky had protected Froome on the first of those three ascents, but on the second the peloton was blown apart, leaving a front group of 22 riders as Contador went on the assault again on the second climb.
He was reeled in, but attacked again on the third ascent, and Froome had to dig deep to make it back up to the Spaniard along with Rodriguez. The three remained out front alone on the 12.5km descent to the finish, where Froome proved strongest.
Tour of Oman Stage5 result 1 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING 3h 29' 19" 2 CONTADOR Alberto TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF + 00' 00" 3 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KATUSHA TEAM + 00' 00" 4 IMPEY Daryl ORICA GREENEDGE + 00' 04" 5 STYBAR Zdenek OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 04" 6 NOCENTINI Rinaldo AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 04" 7 TSCHOPP Johann IAM CYCLING + 00' 04" 8 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 04" 9 HERNANDEZ Jesus TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF + 00' 04" 10 POZZOVIVO Domenico AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 08" 11 SOUPE GEOFFREY FDJ + 00' 34" 12 BRESCHEL Matti TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF + 00' 34" 13 RATTO Daniele CANNONDALE + 00' 34" 14 GILBERT Philippe BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 34" 15 EIJSSEN Yannick BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 34" 16 MARCATO Marco VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 34" 17 VOSS Paul TEAM NETAPP-ENDURA + 00' 34" 18 BOUET Maxime AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 34" 19 ELMIGER Martin IAM CYCLING + 00' 34" 20 VELITS Peter OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 34" Overall standings after Stage 5 1 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING 20h 04' 13" 2 CONTADOR Alberto TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF + 00' 27" 3 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 39" 4 RODRIGUEZ Joaquin KATUSHA TEAM + 00' 50" 5 NOCENTINI Rinaldo AG2R LA MONDIALE + 01' 13" 6 TSCHOPP Johann IAM CYCLING + 01' 13" 7 NIBALI Vincenzo ASTANA PRO TEAM + 01' 19" 8 ELISSONDE KENNY FDJ + 01' 34" 9 POZZOVIVO Domenico AG2R LA MONDIALE + 01' 44" 10 BOUET Maxime AG2R LA MONDIALE + 02' 00"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.