Oman, oh man!
Even a 9 year old kid who is failing geography will tell you Oman is a long way from Yorkshire, England.
Ergo, hard to put any long-term stock in the results of the Tour of Oman but hey, you get to see which climbers did the hard work over the Winter.
First, let’s get the duh out of the way. Chris Froome said his intention was to win several Tours de France, back up his results and prove they’ll stand the dope tests of time.
He meant what he said. He’s gonna win another Tour with or without his friend Sir Bradley Wiggins riding shotgun with a smile.
In winning on the Green Mountain, the queen stage in Oman, Froome showed Tour rivals like Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay van Garderen that beating him in Le Grand Shindig will be a damn difficult task.
Froome’s overall victory in Oman also alerted Astana and BMC that Sky will be more than happy to get aggressive with tactics. They threw Sergio Henao up the road which caused a general freakout and set up Froome for his counter. Bang, Oman in bag.
The other significant news out of the desert was that Tejay van Garderen has spent a productive, hard-working Winter. He finished just a handful of seconds behind Froome on the mountain and earned the second step on the podium.
As per usual, van Garderen was chill and laid-back about his performance and any implied ramifications about July, France, maillot jaune. After all, the Green Mountain is a challenging grade at 10.5% but it’s only 5.7k long — not exactly Tour scary.
“I was playing it kind of safe and not getting ahead of myself but I’m happy to be the runner-up behind Froome. It shows I did my homework in the winter,” said van Garderen. Sounds like he was even doing some of the bonus, extra credit work.
Rigoberto Uran (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) finished 3rd and 4th in Oman so congrats to them. It’s clear neither of them spent most of the Winter on the couch drinking beer and eating potato chips.
Vincenzo Nibali finished back in 12th but given his impressive results the last few seasons and his tranquillo style, nobody is wondering what he’s been up to.
Then there are the Brothers Schleck.
Frank eased his way into 19th position but you have to scroll, scroll, scroll down to find Andy, who rolled in 72nd on GC, some twenty minutes behind Froome’s winning time.
We keep hearing how Andy is back and committed and training like a fiend and how much he realized he loves bike racing etc etc. Trek management also says the same things — we’re behind Andy 110%, he’s getting back to winning form, he’s finally healed from his injuries.
Good for Trek — keep the organizational ego boosts for Andy going. Part of the program, just smart business, little positive PR never hurt anybody and God knows Andy needs love.
Okay, all fine and dandy but after two years it just seems like 72nd is kinda underwhelming. It’s a long way to go to the Tour de France and that will certainly be the Schleck party line. Still, head shake, not feeling it for France.
Chapeau Froome and van Garderen.