Monday, February 13, 2012
Favorites for Tour of Oman
Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez
Oman may be a flat race for most of the stages, but with the finish on Green Mountain on stage 5 it seems assured that the overall winner will be a climber. Last year Robert Gesink won the stage to Green Mountain (and the time trial the following day) and took the overall win. If you look at stage results from Green Mountain last year it may surprises you to see Purito down as number 16, 3,28 minutes behind Gesink, but beware – the numbers lie. Purito didn’t get dropped by Gesink with 3½ min, he actually got caught up in the strong wind and had to start the climb 3 minutes down already. In fact Purito had the second fastest time on the final climb, only beaten by; well Robert Gesink. This time I’m sure Purito will be eager to take revenge and without a time trial, a win on Green Mountain should be enough to take the overall win.
Tour de San Luis showed that Vicenzo Nibali is already in pretty good shape. On the two mountain stages he stayed within reach of Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer and on the time trial he took second place, beating Alberto Contador with around 30 seconds. The Green Mountain climb may not suit Nibali nearly as good as Purito, but with the shape Nibali showed in Argentina I would be surprised if he doesn’t go top3 on Green Mountain and thereby in the final classification as well.
Another one who showed great shape in Argentina is Sylvain Chavanel. Fourth in the time trial, 39 seconds behind Levi Leipheimer (22 seconds faster than Alberto Contador) and close to the best riders in the mountains, Quickstep now hopes for Chavanel to show off in Tour of Oman. Chavanel is very good in the wind and knows how to position himself in any situation. Of course he doesn’t have the same punch as Purito on Green Mountain, but I think the Frenchmen will surprise quite a few with a great performance. It would have been ideal with a time trial for Chavanel, but even without it, I think he will be a player for the overall victory.
As a joker for the general classification I would like to point out Danish Jakob Fuglsang. Fuglsang showed in the hilly race on Mallorca that he is in good shape and knowing Green Mountain from last year, he has good starting point. If he has a super day I actually think he can win on Green Mountain. Top5 overall should be a pretty safe bet.