Back after a two-year hiatus, the Tour of Oman returns with a familiar route for 2022. It’s the usual mix of sprints, punchy stages and the Green Mountain. With hot temperatures, this race provides a stiff test so early in the season.
The race begins with a gentle sprint stage, with the final 900m rising at around 3%.
Another easy sprint stage, but all day is spent on the coast, will the wind be strong enough to cause echelons?
We have the first of the punchy stages with the usual finish in Qurayyat. 2.5km at 7% doesn’t sound much, but it always proves to be harder than you think.
Another familiar stage. This one used to finish outside the Ministry of Tourism, it’s the stage where they go up and down the same road a couple of times. It might not sound very interesting, but this is usually quite an exciting stage to watch.
We head back to the Green Mountain, the stage which will decide the GC. 5.5km at 10.6% and under a scorching sun, this is a very tough finish.
Another familiar stage. The race always finishes with this one, and it normally ends in a bunch sprint. There is a little kicker near the end, but the sprint teams can normally shut down the attacks and set it up for the fast men.
Fausto Masnada – the last we saw of the Italian was a brilliant performance in Il Lombardia, where he finished 2nd. He doesn’t get many GC opportunities, so I expect him to be motivated to seize this chance. Masnada is an underrated climber, someone who often gets forgotten about due to the level of his teammates. Last year he finished 3rd in Romandie, that was a hugely significant result for him. Given the level of his rivals, Masnada must start as one of the big favourites.
Rui Costa – started the season with a solid 3rd place in the Saudi Tour. With that race in the legs, I would expect him to be better here. He was 2nd here back in 2017, his performance in the Saudi Tour will make him believe he’s capable of winning this race.
Henri Vandenabeele – one of the many youngsters who can shine in this race. 3rd in last year’s Baby Giro shows what he’s capable of, it was a shame he crashed out of the Tour de l’Avenir. He’s someone who can climb well in this race and finish high on GC.
Jan Hirt – he’s just back from spending around three weeks in Colombia, getting some altitude training in the legs nice and early in the season. The Czech rider isn’t normally someone who starts the season in fine form, he needs a few races in the legs before he gets near his best. If that is the case, the team also have Rein Taaramäe as a strong option. The Estonian is just back from a spell of altitude training in Rwanda.
Niklas Eg – his career didn’t really go anywhere at Trek-Segafredo, I’m happy to see him now with Uno-X. He is a rider who has a point to prove, it will be interesting to see how he copes with extra pressure on his shoulders. Remember, this is a guy who finished 3rd in the Tour de l’Avenir, he is a quality cyclist. Anthon Charmig is another good option for the team, he looked impressive in the Saudi Tour.
Filippo Zana – 3rd last year in the Tour de l’Avenir, the Italian has an exciting career ahead of him. The youngster is a very talented climber, it’s been a while since Bardiani had such a rider in their ranks. He looked solid enough in Mallorca, I’m expecting him to be very good in this race.
Kevin Colleoni – another young rider with a lot of talent, it seems like this race is full of them. He was 3rd in the 2020 Baby Giro but didn’t really do much last year. He’ll be hoping to take advantage of a rare leadership opportunity.
Hugo Toumire – you guessed it, he did well in last year’s l’Avenir! 5th place was a big result for the young Frenchman, Cofidis will be hoping he can start well in the pro ranks. I would expect his level to be a little lower than some of the riders previously mentioned, but you never can tell at this time of year.
Elie Gesbert – he showed okay form in Mallorca, he’ll fancy his chances of causing an upset in this race. He was 5th here back in 2019, another result like that is possible, especially when you consider the strength of the start list.
I’ll take a win for Fausto Masnada, he should have the quality to see off Rui Costa and all the talented youngsters.
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