Joaquin Rodriguez climbs to victory on Green Mountain in Tour of Oman
Today's stage 4 of the 2013 Tour of Oman transported the peloton 152.5 kilometers from Al-Saltiyah-in-Samail to the legendary Green Mountain (Jabal Al Akhdhar). The eleven kilometer Green Mountain climb is feared by many professional cyclists because of its final six kilometers which offer the riders a neat average gradient of no less than 10.5 percent.
Today's breakaway group was formed early and featured BMC Racing Team's American Brent Bookwalter, Andreas Schillinger of Team NetApp and Team RadioShack's Gregory Rast. Leading the way for stage favorite and teammate Rodriguez, Team Katusha's Gatis Smukulis joined the breakaway group and Matthias Friedemann continued Team Champion System's tradition of taking part in the long breakaways of the Tour of Oman. All breakaway riders were hoping to become the eventual stage winner.
The five breakaway companions built a lead of two minutes and then managed to increase it to more than four minutes. The main peloton, however, wasn't ready to let them gain too large an advantage as many of the major stage race stars of the various participating teams had put a red circle around today's stage 4 in their respective calendars. Teams such as Saxo-Tinkoff, BMC Racing and Sky Pro Cycling did what they could to reel in the escapees.
In today's finale up the Green Mountain Team Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador was first to attack. He was quickly followed by Team Astana's Vincenzo Nibali. Team BMC Racing's former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans caught up with the two leaders together with Team Sky's Chris Froome and AG2R's Domenic Pozzovivo.
At the end Rodriguez attacked again and won the stage as none of the other leaders were able to follow him. Froome took the overall Tour of Oman lead after finishing the stage in second place, 18 seconds behind Rodriguez. Evans, who is celebrating his 36th birthday today, finished third, 22 seconds behind.
"To have guys of the calibre of Bradley Wiggins working for you, it was hard not to be in a good position going into the final climb today. It meant I still had the legs going into the last 2 k,” race leader Froome told Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium.
"There's quite a challenging day ahead of us tomorrow but we've got a great team and we've really come together as a unit here. With a 24-second lead it might be hard to hold on, but it's a great position to be in and a good, promising sign for us this early in the year."
"I've come here with an open mind, knowing I've trained well in the off-season and leading into this," Evans commented and added "But it is my first race and my first real test of the year. I'd say I'm very satisfied. I couldn't have asked more from myself."
Tomorrow's penultimate stage 5 is a 144 kilometer ride from Al Alam Palace to the exotic Ministry of Housing in Boshar.