After Bradley Wiggins confirmed that Chris Froome would be Team Sky's leader for the Tour of Oman, the Kenyan-born Briton showed he was on form and ready to race by finishing sixth on stage two to Al Bustan, just seven seconds behind irrepressible stage winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Froome was able to go with the attacks on the last climb when Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) lit the touch paper and even managed to gain four seconds on the Spaniard at the finish, seconds that could prove vital in the overall battle for victory.
With Bradley Wiggins losing any chance of overall success after being caught behind a late crash on stage one, Team Sky worked with dedication and purpose to look after Froome. Most of the stage was a quiet affair but when it was time to set up for the finale, Peter Kennaugh, Ritchie Porte and Wiggins drove hard at the front of the peloton until the foot of the very last climb.
When a small group formed after Contador's attack over the crown of the climb, Froome was there. He even managed to anticipate Contador in the final kilometre to gain those four precious seconds.
"The speed we were going up there on the last climb was quite something, it's surprising to see all the GC guys up there," Froome said before quickly riding to the team hotel back over the very same climb he had just raced.
"It was hard enough to split the bunch and Sagan timed it perfectly. Cancellara went on the bottom of the descent and then Sagan got across just as it started to kick up."
"I was there or thereabouts, and I think I’m right on track. The team did a fantastic job; they kept me out of trouble and out of the winds, so I’m happy."
Wiggins works hard
Despite dropping out of contention on day one and perhaps suffering with the heat in Oman, Bradley Wiggins was also enthusiastic about the day's 146km of racing. He finished in 45th place, last of the front group that ended he stage 11 seconds down on Sagan
"It was a good day for us,” Wiggins said as he wheeled his way through spectators at the finish.
“It was a bit tricky in places on that descent and I’m glad I stayed upright. It wasn’t too bad, we rode steady most of the day, and it was only in the final that it really hotted up and Chris was up there, which was good.”
Wednesday's third stage is another perfect day for Sagan. This year's Tour of Oman is expected to be decided on Thursday's fourth stage, 152.5km from Al Saltiyah in Samail to Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain).