Froome Rises on Green Mountain; Wins Stage 5 of Tour of Oman
In impressive fashion, Team Sky Pro Cycling's Chris Froome rose from the ashes when he took the victory on Jabal Al Akhdhar, also known as the Green Mountain, thereby proving his intention to continue his career on the high note that brought him the victory in last year's Tour de France.
Defending Tour of Oman champion Froome set a new record when he conquered the Green Mountain in 18 minutes and 33 seconds. Froome accelerated from a group of general classification favorites with two kilometers to go and went on to take his first stage victory in the 2014 Tour of Oman ahead of Team BMC Racing's Tejay van Garderen and Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Rigoberto Uran (Columbia). By winning today's stage 5 Froome also captured the overall race lead and looks set to take the overall victory in this year's race.
"It feels absolutely fantastic getting that win today, especially with it being my first race of the season. Coming into the race I wasn’t sure exactly where my form was but this has proved I’m where I need to be right now," Froome told RoadCycling.com after being celebrated on the podium.
"I’m really, really happy to be back in the leader’s jersey. We came into this race with much less stress than previously, and no massive expectations, but to be able to do what we’ve done here today is fantastic and it all bodes well for the season to come."
Today's stage 5 was expected to be the decisive stage of this year's edition of the Tour of Oman and the 147.5 kilometers from Bidbid to Jabal Al Akhdar certainly didn't disappoint its spectators. The 141 remaining riders in the Tour of Oman peloton took off under sunny skies and in high temperatures just before noon and after just 3 kilometers, United HealthCare's John Murphy was the first to break away.
Canola and the two teammates Sprengers and Van Hecke of Top Sport Vlaanderen were quick to join forces with the American at kilometer 7. The four leaders rapidly grew their advantage and at the first intermediate sprint (kilometer 50), which was won by Van Hecke in front of Sprengers and Murphy, they could enjoy a 4 minute lead. The gap would actually reach a maximum 4 minutes and 15 seconds at kilometer 56, before Team Katusha and Cannondale Pro Cycling Team initiated the chase.
With 25 kilometers to go, the gap had been reduced to 2 minutes and 55 seconds. While the riders from Team Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep moved up to the front of the pack to prepare their leaders for the climb of the day, the breakaway hopefuls reached the second bonus sprint (kilometer 136), won by Van Hecke ahead of Canola and Murphy, with a 54 second lead. When Van Hecke, Sprengers and Murphy were eventually caught by the pack, Canola carried on alone, but his solo effort proved to be in vain, as the vicious pack caught him and took on the Green Mountain climb.
On the extremely tough first kilometers of the climb, points classification leader and German national champion André Greipel was among the first to be dropped. Moments later it was overall race leader Peter Sagan’s turn to stuggle. With 3 kilometers to go, climbers such as Vincenzo Nibali, who won on Green Mountain in 2012, Franck and Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), were