Chris Froome wins stage 5 of 2013 Tour of Oman
The route of stage 5 of the 2013 Tour of Oman stretched 144 kilometers from the Al Alam Palace to the Ministry of Housing in Boshar. As part of the route the peloton had to climb the Bousher Almarat mountain three times and this looked like a tasty menu for the major stars, which are taking part in the race.
In defense of their captain the Sky team led the peloton as it climbed the Bousher Almarat for the first time. The Sky team succeeded at setting a hard and grueling pace.
As the riders fought on the Bousher Almarat climb for the second time Team Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador jumped out of the saddle in a sudden attack to which Team Astana's Vincenzo Nibali responded. Overall Tour of Oman race leader Froome remained cool behind his teammates which were still safeguarding him on the climb. Nibali was dropped by Contador who maintained his pace hoping to reel in the breakaway group in front, which included his teammate Jesus Hernandez.
The favorites, however, merged into a single group on the downhill stretch which was facing the riders before they approached the climb for the third time.
In his insisting manner, Contador launched a new attack as the favorites reached the Bousher Almarat mountain for the third time. Rodriguez and Froome joined forces to bridge the gap and thus caught up with the Spaniard. The trio was back together with twelve kilometers to go.
Meanwhile, former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans of Team BMC Racing was fighting hard in a seven man chase group, hoping to defend his second place position in the overall classification. The chase group, however, never caught up with the front trio, so Froome, Contador and Rodriguez approached the finish line without having to worry about their potential threat.
Froome beat Contador and yesterday's stage winner Rodriguez in the sprint to the finish line and Evans finished eighth, just four seconds behind.
“After yesterday I didn’t have much time to play with but the team controlled the race from the start and got on the front with Christian Knees and Joe Dombrowski. This is Joe’s first race as a professional, so he did an outstanding job to get to the first mountain pass having worked on the front and also to take us over that climb," Froome said after being celebrated on the podium.
“The team tried to keep things together as well as they could and coming towards the final two climbs Saxo Bank and our rivals lit up the race and made it very hard. That left me isolated with Richie Porte to look after me. He did a fantastic job, taking me up to the final climb where I was able to cover the moves from Contador," Froome added.
Froome now leads the 2013 Tour of Oman by 27 seconds to runner-up Contador. Evans is in third position overall, 39 seconds behind Froome.
"For Alberto (Contador) to overtake me on the general classification, he had to work his team a lot," Evans commented after the stage finish and explained "His team worked well, and, in the end, it succeeded for them. I consolidated my losses and tried to play it in the final. I expected the group to come back in the end, but they didn't come back."
Two-time stage winner Peter Sagan of Team Cannondale abandoned the race before start of today's stage.
The team said in a statement a precautionary rest was needed in the face of Sagan’s poor condition after yesterday's stage. After a visit from doctor Magni, the team said Sagan was diagnosed with acute tracheo-bronchitis and fever.
"The Classics season is approaching and we can’t risk damaging the plan," Team Cannondale Sports Director Alberto Volpi explained adding "Sagan’s precautionary rest is the best and only choice. He will rest until his condition improves and he is able to train again."
The 2013 Tour of Oman concludes tomorrow with a 144 kilometer stage from Hawit Nagam Park to Matrah Corniche.
"Tomorrow hopefully the sprinter teams will take advantage of the flatter profile and it should end in a sprint if all goes to plan. I’ve extended my lead to 27 seconds so it puts us in a good place going into tomorrow’s stage," Froome explained.