Rustaq Fort in the Wilayat of Rustaq will witness the launch of the first stage of the 11th edition of the Tour of Oman today. The 138km race will end at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in Muscat.
Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, in conjunction with Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the race is part of the UCI ProSeries of events. For its much-anticipated return following two years of cancellation, 18 teams from four continents will be starting at the frontline.
Tour of Oman 2022 will last for six days with a total length of 891km divided in six stages between February 10 and 15.
Speaking at a pre-launch press conference on Wednesday, Saif al Rushaidi, Chairman of Oman Cycling Association, said that the 11th edition of the Tour of Oman will enjoy global media coverage and follow-up, as there are 15 international photo agencies, five specialised international newspapers, 35 international television channels, four international news agencies, and 17 international journalists who will report on the progress of the event.
He added that there will be global television broadcast for 275 hours. “Apart from the focus on races, Oman’s tourist and heritage landmarks will also enjoy coverage.”
For the first time in the history of the race, the Oman National Team will participate, granting a select team of local riders the opportunity to race against some of the strongest squads in the world.
Picturesque setting, international stars
The picturesque setting of Tour of Oman 2022 is set to amaze the world and push international champions to their limits over six days of racing.
Sprinters such as the British icon Mark Cavendish, climbing talents like the rising German champion Marco Brenner and all-rounders such as the 2014 World Champion Rui Costa will all find opportunities to shine and write glorious new pages in the history of the event. Since the first edition in 2010, winners have included riders of the calibre of Fabian Cancellara, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome.
Fast men are expected to be immediately in action in this 11th edition of the race, provided they survive the windy traps of the first two stages leading to the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Sohar Corniche, respectively. With Cavendish in the race, this portion proves to be particularly exciting – when it comes to sprinting, there aren’t many riders in the whole history of cycling that can match his skills and achievements.
The British superstar, who shares the record for most wins in the Tour de France (34) with Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, won the final stage of the Tour of Oman in 2011, on the historic Muttrah Corniche. After a brilliant return to the forefront last year, the ‘Manx Missile’ will be able to rely on a strong Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team to battle through the desert and lead him out in the final kilometres with partners such as the experienced Iljo Keisse and the gifted Mauro Schmid.
At 27 years old, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) also holds a place in the history books since he sprinted to the prestigious yellow and pink jerseys on the roads of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. Coming off the Saudi Tour, the Colombian “Misil” will take on the Omani roads with the support of one of the best lead-out men of this century, Maximiliano Richeze.
Belgian sprinter Amaury Capiot (Team Arkea-Samsic) will be eager to challenge these two icons, following a strong start of the season (winner in the GP La Marseillaise). It will also be interesting to see how Campbell Stewart’s talents fare on the road, after leading him to a World Champion title on the track. The New-Zealander, also a silver medallist in last year’s Olympic Games, embarks on a new adventure with his first race for Team BikeExchange-Jayco alongside another young sprinting talent, Kaden Groves.
These fast men can expect to be pushed to their limits by all-rounders such as Soren Kragh Andersen, a stage winner in the Tour of Oman (in 2017, on the Quariyat climb where the race returns this year) and the Tour de France. The Dane and his compatriot Casper Pedersen forms a strong power duo for Team DSM. Other punchy and resilient riders like Max Walscheid (Cofidis) and Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates) can shred the bunch before they make the most of their pure speed in the final stretch.
Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) is another versatile talent whose abilities already got him eight top-5 stage finishes in the Tour of Oman, with strong overall results (2nd in 2017, also in the top 5 in 2016 and 2019).
Italian climber Fausto Masnada (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) should be among Costa’s main rivals on the slopes of Jabal Akhdar (5.7km at 10.5%), where French climber Elie Gesbert (Team Arkea-Samsic) already showed his worth in 2019 (5th in 2019, alongside Costa). German teenager Marco Brenner (Team DSM) is a special talent, and the iconic climb could also inspire him to show his budding abilities to the world.
The young Said al Rahbi is not much older (21 years old), and he’ll also be determined to be at his best as the reigning Oman National Champion, crowned last Autumn in Quriyat. He’s joined by his runner-up, Mohammed al Wahibi and bronze medalist Husam al Rawahi in the seven-man Oman National Selection who will be competing in the race for the first time in its history.