Tour of Oman starts tonight

The fifth edition of the Tour of Oman starts tonight with Chris Froome (Sky) keen to defend his victory from last year’s race.

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The race comprises six stages: three flatter stages that are likely to end in a bunch sprint (stages 1, 2 and 6), two medium mountain stages (3 & 4) with climbs near the end that are likely to force a selection, and one summit finish (stage 5) on the infamous Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain).

The Green Mountain climb might only be 5.7km long but with an average gradient of 10.5% on an exposed section of highway, this climb will almost certainly decide the overall classification on the penultimate day of the race.

Riders to watch in the race include Froome, in his first race for the year, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Robert Gesink (Belkin).

Click here to see the startlist for the 2014 Tour of Oman.

Froome to open season with Tour of Oman

Last year, when he won the Tour de France and a number of other stage races, Chris Froome started his season with a win at the Tour of Oman. He’s hoping for a similar feat in 2014 but admits he doesn’t know how he’ll go against the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez who have several days of racing under their belts for 2014 already.

Chris Froome in the leader's red jersey on stage 5 of last year's Tour of Oman.

Chris Froome in the leader’s red jersey on stage 5 of last year’s Tour of Oman.

“I don’t quite know where I am but I’d love to see where I’m at. I’d love a victory but I’m not sure where I am compared to the other guys”, Froome said. “We’ll see.”

Froome has come to Oman directly from South Africa where he’s been training in the heat.

“I’ve done some really good training and the race will tell how good that has been. I feel like I’m in good condition”, Froome said. “I’m looking forward to racing again now. I’ve done a lot of training and its good to put it to use now.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Pompieana concerns provoke questions: Froome out, Cavendish in?

As we reported yesterday, organisers of Milan-San Remo and local authorities are currently in talks to decide whether the new Pompieana climb will be removed from the race, due to safety concerns.

While a final decision is still yet to be made, that decision will certainly affect the make-up of the race, not just in the way the racing will unfold but in terms of who will be there.

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Chris Froome is currently scheduled to race the first Monument of the season but if the Pompieana is removed, Froome will sit the race out.

“I thought I might try my luck because the organisers had decided to make the race more difficult by adding a climb in the final,” Froome said. “But ultimately, the traditional, less difficult course will be used. It no longer makes sense to dedicate myself to starting in Milan.”

On the other side of the coin, Mark Cavendish, who won the race back in 2009, might make a return if the Pompieana is removed.

“I think Mark’s open to returning to Milano-San Remo,” Omega Pharma-QuickStep sports director Davide Bramati told Cycling Weekly. “We need an official press release or something from RCS Sport before we make the call and talk.”

VeloNews is reporting that there are conflicting messages about whether the Pompieana will be included in this year’s race. The director of roads and transport for the Imperia province said the road isn’t safe enough for the race to feature the climb, while sources close to RCS Sport believe the new route will still be used.

Click here to read more at VeloNews.

Contador skips Tour of Oman; aims for more wins in 2014

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) isn’t racing the Tour of Oman like he did last year (where he came second to Froome), instead he’s off to Portugal to race the Volta ao Algarve, a race he won in 2009 and 2010.

Alberto Contador before the start

From there he’s off to Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

“If you asked me which one I preferred to win, I would have to say Tirreno-Adriatico, because it’s not in my palmares yet,” Contador told reporters. “The other three are already there.”

Despite a fourth overall at the Tour de France last year, Contador had a largely disappointing 2013 by his lofty standards, with just one victory to his name (in stage 6 of the Tour de San Luis). The Spaniard is hoping to turn things around in 2014.

“You work for wins, and I hope this year is better than the last. I am very motivated and very keen to get going. I’ve been able to prepare my season better than in 2013, getting a good base and I hope that works out on the road, too.”

Click here to read more at Cycling News.

Phil Deignan breaks collarbone in training

Philip Deignan has been forced to withdraw from Team Sky’s Ruta del Sol squad after suffering a fractured right collarbone in training.

Phil Deignan leads the charge on stage 3 of this year's Tour Down Under.

Phil Deignan leads the charge on stage 3 of this year’s Tour Down Under.

The accident occurred while Deignan was finalising his preparations for the Spanish race near his base in Monaco, and the 30 year old has now returned to Ireland to undergo a period of rehabilitation.

The injury is Deignan’s second collarbone fracture in the space of five months, having damaged his left side during last season’s Tour of Britain.

The climbing specialist is understandably disappointed not to be making his second Team Sky start on Wednesday but is expecting to make a speedy recovery.

“The medical team have taken a good look at it and we’ve decided not to have surgery, so I’m back home in Donegal now getting ready to go again. My collarbone’s a lot more mobile than the last time this happened so I’m hoping I’ll be back on the bike sooner rather than later.”

Team Sky’s Lead Doctor Alan Farrell couldn’t confirm exactly when Deignan will be back in action, but is pleased with the progress being made with the injury, and doesn’t expect it to affect his longer-terms goals.

Click here to read more at the Team Sky website. Text via Team Sky press release.

Will Walker undergoes heart surgery

Australian Will Walker has undergone surgery to implant a defibrillator and ensure an episode like the one he had at the Australian nationals road race doesn’t happen again.

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Walker retired from professional cycling as a result of the incident but will continue on with the Synergy Baky Cycling Project, potentially in a coaching capacity.

“Into the future, my intentions are to stay involved with the Synergy Baku cycling team,” he said. “In what capacity is still to be discussed. Seeing a project grow, from ground up will naturally be a very exciting process and I hope I will be able to have some great input into mentoring and looking after the upcoming riders.”

Walker’s place on the Azerbaijan-based team will be taken up by Irishman Philip Lavery.

Click here to read more at VeloNation.

Drivers should ride bikes before getting license

Here’s an article on New Zealand news website stuff.co.nz that got us thinking. In speaking about cyclist safety on the roads, Hamilton cyclist Sean Cosford told the news outlet:

“If people got on a bike for a couple of years on the road before they ever got a licence they would be . . . more defensive drivers, by a country mile. It’ll certainly hit home to them just what it feels like when you’re sitting on a bike and something rushes past . . . doing 100ks and you’re doing 30.”

Of course it’s far easier to make suggestions like these than actually implement them, but what do you think? Is there merit to this idea? Would it be better for cyclist safety if all drivers had some experience of cycling on the road? How would you implement a strategy like this? Or is it simply unfeasible?

Click here to read more at Stuff.co.nz.

$20,000 crocodile-skin fixie

A French leather goods manufacturer, Watch Life With Curiosity, has developed a fixie worth roughly $20,000 thanks to its crocodile skin coverings.

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Each bike reportedly takes 90 hours to make and requires the skins of four crocodiles, aged eight to 10 years, in order to cover the frame, handlebars, brake lever and toe-clips.

We can’t work out if this is cool or just really tacky, but either way it’s certainly different. What’s your take?

Click here to read more at the Watch Life with Curiosity website, and click here to see more photos at Bike Rumor.

Video: Scott Addict 2014

The following video is an ad for the 2014 Scott Addict but it’s still worth checking out — it’s beautifully shot and well put together.

The Rocacorba Recap

And finally this morning, here are a few things you might have missed:


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Today’s feature image comes from Jered Gruber.