Team NetApp-Endura will line up a versatile team for the Tour of Oman. While Leopold König will use the race as the first important test of his climbing condition, Sam Bennett will try to capitalize on the good form he showed in the Tour of Qatar to take a sprint win in the Middle East.
What the Tour of Qatar is to sprinters, the Tour of Oman is to tour specialists. The first real showdown. Nine mountain classifications, of which one is a mountain finish on the 1,235 meter-high Jaba Al Akhdhar, will define the 915-kilometer stage race.
Last year, the tough route profile and the consistently good weather lured many of the best tour riders in the world to the eastern end of the Arabian peninsula. This year as well, many riders among the favorites for the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France will use the six stages to take stock of where they stand. But the terrain should also suit all-rounders.
Team NetApp-Endura will be represented on the start line by Leo König and Sam Bennett.
“Leo König will certainly try to make an impact in one or two stages, but we can also expect Sam Bennett to perform well. Sam proved that he is a good sprinter back in Qatar, but the fact that he is also excellent at tackling medium-length climbs will surprise a few people”, reveals Sport Director Christian Pömer about NetApp-Endura’s new Irish rider.
It all kicks off on February 18 with a straightforward, 165-kilometer stage. This is followed by two hilly stages before the peloton faces the first difficult test on day four.
“The fourth stage seems to be tailor-made for Sam Bennett. In the closing section riders must tackle four climbs. Last year in the Tour of Britain Sam achieved his biggest win yet on similar terrain”, says Sport Director Pömer, revealing his optimism.
The overall classification will probably not be decided until the following day. To reach the finish in the penultimate stage, riders must tackle the 5.7 km, almost 11% incline of Jabal Al Akhdhar. The so-called Green Mountain will sort out the peloton and provide an initial insight into the riders’ relative strengths in the new season.
The final day should then again offer an opportunity for the sprinters. The first part of the 146.5 km final stage may be hilly, but it is followed by almost 80 kilometers of flat terrain. Spectators can look forward to a spectacular sprint along the Muttrah Corniche.
You can read our preview of the Tour of Oman here.
NetApp-Endura for the Tour of Oman:
Leopold König, Sam Bennett, David De La Cruz, Cesare Benedetti, Zakkari Dempstrer, Bartosz Huzarski, Frantisek Padour, Andreas Schillinger
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