Stage 5: Al Sawadi Beach - Ministry of Housing
The fifth stage of the Tour of Oman was first neutralized and then officially cancelled partway through the already shortened race before the descent of the Bouscher Al Amerat because of extreme heat as temperatures approached 50 degrees Celsius. After a heated discussion between race organizers, team directors and riders, as to whether or not the race should go on, the organization reluctantly agreed to cancel the stage and allow the riders to take a short cut back to their team vehicles at the Ministry of Housing.
Stage 5 was originally intended to be a 151.5km race from Al Sawadi Beach to the Ministry of Housing, and was expected to be a place where the GC could further shake up. Race organizers shortened the race at the start because of strong winds that were causing sandstorms. The start was moved to the base of the day's climb on Bouscher Al Amerat, where the race was to remain neutral until the riders reached the top, and they would continue on with four circuits.
Extreme heat caused some of the riders' tires to melt and explode, and some riders said that their brakes were not functioning properly, causing further concerns about racing because of the danger of their tires exploding and potentially causing crashes on the route's descent. Race organizers were reluctant to cancel the stage but in the end they allowed the riders to return to their team vehicles at the finish area.
Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) continues to lead the overall classification after his win during the previous day's stage 4 in Jabal Al Akhdhar "Green Mountain". He leads the race by nine seconds to runner-up Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and 19 seconds to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
The race will continue for the stage 6 finale on Sunday, a 138.5km race from Oman Air to Muttrah Promenade.
To read the riders' and teams' reactions to the stage 5 cancellation please click here.
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