Chris Froome wraps up Tour of Oman victory as Nacer Bouhanni wins final stage
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 16/02/13 8:13pm
Chris Froome: Sealed his first stage-race victory
Chris Froome safely negotiated the final day of the Tour of Oman to wrap a maiden stage-race victory and sound an ominous warning to his rivals ahead of this summer's Tour de France.
The 27-year-old Briton crossed the line at the Matrah Corniche in Muscat as part of the peloton to consolidate a 27-second triumph over Spain's Alberto Contador, with Australia's Cadel Evans 12 seconds further back in third.
The stage was won by France's Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), who sprinted to victory ahead of Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Taylor Phinney (BMC) at the end of a 144km final day that had started in Hawit Nagam Park, south-east of the Omani capital.
But the most fervent celebrations were saved for Froome, who justified his status as contender for the yellow jersey in France by out-sprinting, out-smarting and, at times, out-climbing the likes of Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez over six days in the Gulf.
It remains early in the 2013 season, but the Team Sky rider's displays on the race's mountainous stages indicate he can now match the Spanish duo's explosive climbing and suggest he will be major threat at an unusually hilly 100th Tour.
Froome dropped Contador on his way to second place on the summit finish on the Green Mountain on stage four, before beating the two-time Tour winner in a sprint for victory after a pulsating battle on stage five. The two results ensured he also topped Oman's points classification.
"It has been an incredibly successful week for us this week," Froome said. "The team has rallied around me all the way and having guys of the calibre 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.
"This is still very early days at the moment and early on in the season. This was a preparation event and a good test to see how the winter training has gone so far.
"I am quite confident that I am on track at the moment and right where I need to be with my preparations in view of being ready at 100 per cent for the Tour de France."
The general classification leaders kept a low profile on the final day of the race as the sprinters returned to the fore on a rolling stage ending with a flat dash to the finish line.
A group of three riders - Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Andrea di Corrado (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox) - made an early breakaway and opened up a gap that peaked at more than six minutes.
But they were reeled in as the route entered Muscat and took the riders on two-and-a-half laps of a circuit around Matrah Corniche, including three ascents of a short, sharp climb.
Stage one winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) was dropped in the final few kilometres, paving the way for French national champion to out-sprint Australia's Goss to the line.
France's Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) ended the race as the best young rider, while the Netherlands' Bobbie Traksel (Champion System) was named most aggressive rider. BMC took the team prize.
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, 3:24.20; 2 Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE, same time; 3 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC, st; 4 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale, st; 5 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana, st; 6 Daryl Impey (RSA) rica-GreenEDGE, st; 7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st; 8 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, st; 9 Blaz Jarc (Slo) NetApp-Endura, st; 10 Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 23:28.33; 2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff, +27secs; 3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +39; 4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +50; 5 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1.13; 6 Johann Tschopp (Sui) IAM Cycling, same time; 7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +1.19; 8 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ, +1.34; 9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1.44; 10 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1.57