After an extended stay in Spain, Rally UHC Cycling returns to the Arabian Peninsula to tackle the Tour of Oman from February 16 – 21. With six stages, featuring a mix of climbing and desert crosswinds, the race will test the peloton’s resolve as Rally UHC Cycling’s Middle Eastern campaign begins.
With teams chasing early season success on the global stage, nerves will be high at the UCI 2.HC event. Rally UHC Cycling brings a powerful roster capable of producing results on the climbs and in the sprints. The roster features Rob Britton, Adam de Vos, Evan Huffman, Brandon McNulty, Ty Magner, John Murphy, and Pier-André Coté.
Day one of the race is for the team’s sprinters as the peloton tackles 138 km of flat road from Al Sawadi Beach to the finish in Suhar Corniche. Expect an exciting finale as the last 1.3 km are a straight shot along the Sea of Oman coast, where the crowds eagerly await the battling peloton.
The Tour of Oman is a race that emphasizes the importance of a talented sprint train with its high-speed finishes and wide-open desert highways. Few understand this reality better than Rally UHC Cycling sprinter, John Murphy.
“I’ve done Oman several times now, and you need three strong sprinters to really make a run at these finishes,” said Murphy. “They are super fast so being together in the last kilometer is critical. Oman has always been a beautiful early season race and I’m excited to get back to racing.”
During stages two and three, look for the Classics specialists to take center stage. On day two, the peloton journeys 156 km from Royal Cavalry Oman to Al Bustan where strength will be key over the day’s four steep climbs. For the finish, the peloton will confront Al Jissah, a 1.4 km climb averaging nine percent. The splintered peloton will then face a five km descent to the finish where a reduced bunch sprint is expected. Look for breakaway specialists Adam de Vos and Evan Huffman to chase early points in the climbing competition in a bid for top stage honors.
Taking the peloton 192 km from Shati Al Qurum to Qurayyat, stage three will challenge riders from start to finish. Much like the preceding stage, stage three’s course is characterized by rolling terrain and two climbs in the final circuit around Qurayyat. The first time through the finish line takes the riders up the final climb of 2.8 km with an average gradient of 6.5% that will soften legs ahead of the finale. After a 42 km circuit in the outskirts of Qurayyat, expect a showdown between the “puncheurs” of the peloton as they hit the day’s climb for a final time.
In a seemingly endless rollercoaster of terrain, stage four will take the peloton on a 131 km ride from Yiti to the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. Here, riders face a stretch of four categorized climbs before the finish. Don’t count out the team’s sprint trio of Murphy, Cote, and Magner, as they have 27 km to regroup and take a run at the finish.
Stage five’s queen stage will be a special day to watch. On the 152 km trek from Samayil to Jabal Al Akhdhar, the overall classification and yellow jersey are likely to be decided. Here, Rob Britton and Brandon McNulty will look to challenge for the lead on the slopes of Jabar Al Akhdhar, a demanding 5.7 km climb at 10.5%. Known as the Green Mountain to English speakers, the Jabar Al Akhdhar is the most notorious and challenging section of the Tour of Oman.
The general classification will be set heading into the race’s finale, a flat 135 km stage from Al Mouj Muscat to Matrah Corniche. The leadout trains will encounter the finish line three times on their seven km finishing circuits around Matrah Corniche where Rally UHC Cycling will pull out all of the stops to deliver their sprinters to the fore.
Stage 1, Saturday, February 16: Al Sawadi Beach – Suhar Corniche (138.5km, flat)
Stage 2, Sunday, February 17: Royal Cavalry Oman – Al Bustan (156.5km, hilly)
Stage 3, Monday, February 18: Shati Al Qurum – Qurayyat (192.5km, hilly)
Stage 4, Tuesday, February 19: Yiti – Oman Convention Centre (131km, flat)
Stage 5, Wednesday, February 20: Samayil – Jabal Al Akhdhar/Green Mountain (152km, mountainous)
Stage 6, Thursday, February 21: Al Mouj Muscat – Matrah Corniche (135.5km, flat)
Adam de Vos
Brandon McNulty Il Giro di Sicilia in spectacular fashion on Saturday, with Rally UHC Cycling successfully defending his leader’s jersey on the legendary slopes of Mt Etna. McNulty finished fourth on the final stage after his teammates, one by one, sacrificed themselves en route to the greatest GC triumph in team history.
With tough early season contests in Spain and Oman under their belt, Rally UHC Cycling enters a second block of European racing with renewed strength and confidence. The team lands in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport Friday for a five-week campaign that begins in France and ends with England’s Tour de Yorkshire.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of cross-country mountain bike racing, or you’re looking to try your hand at your very first off-road race, your primary concern will undoubtedly be which bike to ride. Should you choose a full-suspension bike with both a suspension fork and a rear shock, or a hardtail with only a suspension fork?
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