Van Garderen, Nibali, Pinot and Rodriguez to clash at the Tour of Oman

Sagan, Bouhanni, Kristoff, Boonen and Cancellara to ride early-season race

This year's Tour of Oman will offer an early-season showdown between Tour de France contenders Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), with the mountain finish on Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) likely to decide the overall winner of the six-day race.

Many of the Classics riders who will enjoy the flat roads and echelons of the Tour of Qatar will also ride the Tour of Oman to complete their early-season preparation before heading to Belgium for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne.

Race organiser ASO has confirmed that Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), French national champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), Theo Bos and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) are all expected to ride in Oman between February 17 and February 22.

This year marks the sixth edition of the race, with the finish on Green Mountain returning for a fifth time. The climb in the Oman desert is only 5.7km long but comes after a fierce fight for position and a steep ramp at the start of the climb. It is a stiff early-season test of form and allows the Grand Tour contenders to show they have been working hard during the winter.

Last year Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the stage to set up overall victory ahead of van Garderen and Rigobero Uran (Etixx-QickStep). Froome has opted for a different start to the 2015 season but will clash with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at the Ruta del Sol (February 18-22).

The other stages are more suited to the sprinters and the Classics rider with finishes in Al Wutayyah, near the Parliament building in Al Bustan, the Al Mussanah Sports City and the Muscat Corniche.

Tour of Oman stages:

Stage 1: Tuesday 17 February: Bayt Al Naman Castle - Al Wutayyah (161 km)
Stage 2: Wednesday 18 February: Al Hazm Castle - Al Bustan (195 km)
Stage 3: Thursday 19 February: Al Mussanah Sports City - Al Mussanah Sports City (158.5 km)
Stage 4: Friday 20 February: Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque - Jabal Al Akhdhar “Green Mountain” (189 km)
Stage 5: Saturday 21 February: Al Sawadi Beach - Ministry of Housing (151.5 km)
Stage 6: Sunday 22 February: Oman Air - Muttrah Promenade (133.5 km)

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