BMC Racing returns to defend Tour of Oman title

Rally Cycling among 18 teams named for 9th edition of the Middle East race

Defending champions BMC Racing are among the 18 teams that have been named for next month’s Tour of Oman.

A total of nine WorldTour teams have been selected for the 2.HC race. The other WorldTour teams are Astana, Bahrain-Merida, Dimension Data, Quick-Step Floors, Katusha-Alpecin, Team Sunweb, UAE Team Emirates and Trek-Segafredo. The selection is much the same as it was last season with Trek-Segafredo replacing AG2R La Mondiale in the line-up.

The remaining nine spots have been filled by Professional Continental teams with Rally Cycling taking advantage of their new status to make their debut at the Middle Eastern race.

Fledgling French team Vital Concept also make their race debut as to the Spanish outfit Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. Fortuneo-Samsic and Roompot Oranje return after missing last year’s race, while Cofidis come back following a two-year break. Aqua Blue Sport, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise are the only three Professional Continental teams to return for the 2018 edition.

The race is organised by ASO of France but Eddy Merckx is no longer involved after a dispute with the Tour de France organiser.

Last year’s Tour of Oman winner Ben Hermans will not be back to defend his title after he left BMC Racing over the winter and signed for Israel Cycling Academy. Hermans took the overall victory last season after winning the queen stage to Green Mountain, ahead of Fabio Aru and Rui Costa, who would eventually finish second on the podium.

While none of the team rosters have yet been confirmed for the race, BMC look likely to select Nicolas Roche along with Greg Van Avermaet. Last year’s runner-up Rui Costa and Alexander Kristoff are pencilled in for UAE Team Emirates and Nacer Bouhanni will perhaps be looking to give Cofidis an early stage win or two in the Gulf.

The ninth edition of the race is set to begin on February 13 and finish five days later on February 18. The route is still to be announced. 

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