Omega Pharma-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant has admitted that his team’s early season preparations have been dealt a blow by not being invited to the Tour of Oman, which takes place from February 15-20.
The race organisers announced their list of 16 invitees on Thursday, which was made up of 11 ProTeams and 5 Professional Continental squads but did not include Omega Pharma-Lotto. The teams to be invited to the Tour of Qatar (February 6-11) are due to be unveiled shortly and Sergeant is concerned that his squad may miss out again.
“Not riding Qatar and Oman would be a big problem because we have already established our programme and now it is without doubt too late to find an alternative,” Sergeant told La Dernière Heure. “We do still have some hope as the selection isn’t completely definitive.”
One rider on the Omega Pharma-Lotto line-up who will be unaffected by the team’s failure to land a place in Oman is Philippe Gilbert. The Belgian rode the Tour of Oman in 2010, but La Dernière Heure reports that this time around Gilbert had already opted to begin his build-up to the classics at the Tour of Mallorca and the Volta ao Algarve rather than in the Middle East.