From the 15th – 20th February Oman will be hosting an 848 km cycle race for 16 professional teams and 128 of the world’s best cyclists.
“In February 2011 the Tour will be one of the key highlights of the Muscat Festival (January 27 – February 24), an annual showcase of Oman’s heritage and culture. The competitors will be racing across some of the most spectacular Omani countryside as well as through the heart of Muscat,” said Saif Al Rushaidy, Muscat Municipality Director-General.
This is considered to be the ideal early season training ground for cyclists. The inaugural Tour of Oman was last year and was acclaimed as a huge success. In the final general classification, Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland, won with a 28” lead over Boasson Hagen and Meyer. The points classification was won by Boasson Hagen who also finished best young rider. The most aggressive rider standing was claimed by Gatis Smukulis (ALM). NTVKenya
“I haven’t suffered like that in a time trial for a long time. Even when I won the world title last year it didn’t hurt like that,” Tour winner, Fabian Cancellara said at the finish. “It’s great to win the overall but most of all it’s been a fascinating trip. The Oman people are special. We get hung up about so many things but they know how to enjoy life.”
Cancellara is an exceptional racer. He continued to excel throughout the season by winning the Tour des Flandres, Paris-Roubaix, the Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France, the Rainbow Jersey of the World Time Trial Championship…
And so the Tour returns this year with the knowledge that the route this time round is going to be even more challenging … the mighty Jebel Akhdar (the green mountain) is to be included which will be a major test of endurance.
The line up is impressive. After much deliberation by the organizing committee, the sixteen teams chosen include some of the best cyclists in the world and are teams that will also take part in the Tour de France later in the year.
“The first edition of the Tour of Oman filled us with enthusiasm and fulfilled our expectations,” said Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France. “Watching nearly one hundred and thirty professional cyclists speeding past was the first introduction to this competitive sport for the majority of the spectators and the enthusiasm shown is a bedrock for ensuring the future success of the competition… More than ever, we believe that the Tour of Oman has a great future worthy of the prestige of this great nation.“
The teams will use road/stage bikes and will not change to team trial bikes as they do in the Tour de France. These bikes will be made of carbon and will weigh about 7kgs. It is important that they are easy to handle, light so as to facilitate the many climbs, rigid so they can cope with downhill speeds of up to 100km/h and reliable and strong to help the rider in the sprint to the finish line. They will have 22 gears – two plates in front and 11 in the back.
It’s an interesting country Oman. It is the third largest in the Arabian Peninsula and has common boundaries with Saudi Arabia in the west, the United Arab Emirates in the north-east and Yemen in the south-west. Its coastline extends 3,165 km from the Strait of Hormuz in the north, to the borders of Yemen to the south and it shares its coast with three seas: the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It also has a number of islands off the coast.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to witness the Tour which will complete 5 stages and 1 time trial over a distance of 848 kms.