MUSCAT, Oman: Tour de France runner-up Christopher Froome took the overall lead in the Tour of Oman after finishing second in the fourth stage yesterday.
Froome, a Team Sky rider who was 13th overall after the third day, finished four seconds behind stage winner Oliver Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha who won the 143.5-kilometer ride from Samail to Jabal Al Akhdhar in 3 1/2 hours. Two Tour de France winners followed; Cadel Evans of BMC finished 22 seconds back in third while Alberto Contador of Team Saxo came in 27 seconds back in fourth.
With two stages remaining, Froome led Evans by 24 seconds for the overall lead with Contador a further second back.
The stage came down to a sprint up the imposing Jabal Al Akhdhar or Green Mountain.
Peter Sagan, who led for the past two stages, and Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins quickly dropped away. Contador then took off but was caught by teammate Jesus Hernandez, Vincenzo Nibali of Astana and Richie Porte of Sky with 4 1/2 kilometers (nearly three miles) to go. With three kilometers (two mile) left, eight men were at the front including Froome, Evans, Contador and Rodriguez with the Katusha rider taking off with a kilometer to go. He wasn’t caught.
“I knew very well about this climbing, because it’s my third year in the Tour of Oman,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really demanding, but I knew where to start my rush and this helped me a lot. Moreover, my teammates worked perfectly. They brought me in the first positions, in order climb at my best.” Froome said he was happy to take over the red leader’s jersey but said he still had plenty of work to do to win the title.
“To have guys of the caliber 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 two kilometers (one mile),” Froome said. “There’s quite a challenging day ahead of us tomorrow but we’ve got a great team. 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.”