Tour of Oman caters to the sprinters

The new Tour of Oman was presented in Paris on Thursday by the ASO's Christian Prudhomme, Belgian legend Eddy Merckx and Sultan Bin Hamdoon Al Harthi, the head of Muscat Municipality and the Municipal Council.

The Tour of Oman (February 14-19), listed on the UCI Asia Tour, will be staged by Eddy Merckx and competes with the Tour of Algarve, another stage race scheduled in Europe at the same time.

Despite having more natural changes in elevation than the Tour of Qatar, the six-stage Tour of Oman will hardly see a bump as it caters to the world's top sprinters.

Covering 687 km over six stages, the route largely avoids the country's hills which can extend up to 600m above sea level - higher than most countries in the Middle East. The flat course is aimed at easing the riders into the difficulties of the season amid weather which is more favourable than that of Europe in February.

The race will attract many of the same top sprinters who will take part in the Tour of Qatar the week before, including Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) as well as Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), Gerald Ciolek (Milram), Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank), Danilo Napolitano (Katusha) and Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun).

Also confirmed are Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma), Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo), Servais Knaven (Milram) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha).

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