BOSHAR, Oman (AFP) — Chris Froome (Sky) won the Tour of Oman on Saturday.
The runner-up at the 2012 Tour de France, Froome beat two winners of cycling’s biggest prize, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
Froome, who took possession of the leader’s red jersey on Thursday, finished with a 27-second advantage over Contador in the overall standings with Evans third at 39 seconds.
“It’s been an incredibly successful week for us this week. The team has rallied around me all the way and having guys of the caliber of Bradley Wiggins helping you to win a race makes it a hell of a lot easier to be up there when the going gets tough,” said Froome.
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) won Saturday’s sixth and final stage, a 144km ride from Hawit Nagam park in the south of the emirate to Muscat along the Matrah corniche.
Bouhanni out-sprinted Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and Taylor Phinney (BMC) for the final victory.
Sky boss Dave Brailsford was pleased with the way Froome and his team performed in Oman.
“It’s good to get the win, especially when you look at the quality of the field here,” he said. “We’re happy that the team’s been able to get off to a strong start again this year and this result allows us to build momentum.
“It’s an important result too for Chris as he’s been able to get his first major stage race victory — that will boost his confidence. He didn’t put a foot wrong all week so it’s been a good start to the year from him.”
Froome conceded that it was early days yet, but called the race “a good test to see how the winter training has gone so far.”
“I’m quite confident that I’m on track at the moment and right where I need to be with my preparations in view of being ready at 100 percent for the Tour de France,” he said.
Evans, likewise, was happy with his race.
“Third isn’t bad,” Evans said. “It was a nice race with a good level of riders. It’s hard to say something about my condition for the Tour de France, but I can say that after my first race I am feeling good and my condition is good.”
Evans said his next race will be Tirreno-Adriatico March 6-12. After that, he’ll try to defend his overall title at Critérium International March 23-24.