Tour of Oman 2016: Vincenzo Nibali secures overall victory

Tour of Oman 2016: Vincenzo Nibali secures overall victory
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Published February 22nd, 2016 - 15:16 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Italian Vincenzo Nibali (C) of Astana Pro Team, French Romain Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale (L) and Norwegian Edvald Baosson Hagen (R) of Dimension Data celebrate on the podium after winning the sixth and final stage of the seventh cycling Tour of Oman between Muscat and Mutrah Corniche, on February 21, 2016. Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour of Oman for the Astana team after Norwegian Alexander Kristoff took the sixth and final stage in a sprint finish.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali (C) of Astana Pro Team, French Romain Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale (L) and Norwegian Edvald Baosson Hagen (R) of Dimension Data celebrate on the podium after winning the sixth and final stage of the seventh cycling Tour of Oman between Muscat and Mutrah Corniche, on February 21, 2016. Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour of Oman for the Astana team after Norwegian Alexander Kristoff took the sixth and final stage in a sprint finish.
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Italy's Vincenzo Nibali emerged overall champion at the Tour of Oman after safely finishing in the peloton in the sixth and final stage, which concluded with an entertaining sprint to the Muttrah Corniche on Sunday. 

The Astana rider finished just behind the sprinters to secure his first overall victory in the seventh edition of the annual race.

He made up for a close defeat to Peter Velits in 2012, when he had missed the Oman crown by just a second.

“It was very important for me to try to get a win straightaway,” Nibali said after the podium ceremonies on Sunday.

“It’s always nice to win early in the season, especially with important races coming up in the weeks to come.”

Katusha's Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff won the final stage to take his second victory of the week and his fifth in total this season. Giant-Alpecin's Belgian rider Zico Waeytens was second and his teammate Soren Kragh Andersen came third after three laps of a hilly circuit.

“Last year, I was good in this part of the season and I’ve started well now. So I think I’m on the right way,” Kristoff said. Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) was second in the final overall classification at 15 seconds, with Nibali's stablemate, Jakob Fuglsang, third at 24 seconds.

With Nibali’s year centred on the Giro d’Italia rather than the Tour de France, he has placed a greater emphasis on early-season form this time round, and he will line out at next month’s Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy, seeking a third successive win, while the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in Belgium in April is another important intermediate target.

On Sunday afternoon, however, Nibali wasn't immediately looking beyond the triumph in Oman.

“I’m happy with this win, especially seeing as I came very close to winning here before only to lose out by a second [to Velits in 2012],” he said.

Nibali's success was sealed, thanks to his masterly climb of Jebel Akhdar during the fourth stage of the event on Friday. On the final day of the Tour of Oman, the 138 remaining riders of the event were warmly welcomed at the residential area of Almouj, Muscat by hundreds of spectators, including a strong Norwegian contingent coming to cheer for their heroes, Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

Wearing the overall leader’s red jersey, Nibali could count on a 15-second lead over Bardet as the pack took off at 12.25pm for a 130.5km ride. The stage victory was decided in a bunched sprint. Perfectly led out by his Katusha teammates, Kristoff powered to line beating Waeytens and Andersen.

Nibali finished 21st in the final stage, while Hagen, the winner of two stages and sixth overall, won the points classification. Brendan Canty (Drapac Professional Cycling), who finished seventh in the general classification, finished as the best young rider.

The most aggressive rider's jersey went to South African Jacques Janse van Rensburg, who also won the team classification with Dimension Data.

Sixth-stage standings: 1 Alexander Kristoff (Norway, Katusha), 2 Zico Waeytens (Belgium, Giant-Alpecin), 3 Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark, Giant- Alpecin), 4 Tom van Asbroeck (Belgium, LottoNL-Jumbo), 5 Sam Bennett (Ireland, Bora- Argon-18), 6 Roy Jans (Belgium, Wanty-Groupe Gobert), 7 AmauryCapiot (Belgium, Topsport Vlaanderen), 8 Marko Kumpo (Slovenia, Lampre- Merida), 9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway, Dimension Data), 10 Marco Canola (Italy, UnitedHealthcare).

Overall standings: 1 Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, Astana Pro Team), 2 Romain Bardet (France, AG2R La Mondiale), 3 Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark, Astana), 4 Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands, Team Giant-Alpecin), 5 Rui Costa (Portugal, Lampre-Merida), 6 Edvald Boasson Hagen, 7 Brendan Canty (Australia, Drapac Professional Cycling), 8 Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy, AG2R La Mondiale), 9 Merhawi Kudus (Eritrea, Dimension Data), 10 Gianluca Brambilla (Italy, Etixx-Quick-Step).

____

Decision on deal soon

A top official of Muscat Municipality said that a decision on whether to renew the contract of the annual Tour of Oman will be taken soon.

The current contract concluded with the seventh edition on Sunday.

Eddy Merckx and race co-owner Dirk De Pauw are expected to hold talks with senior government officials to chart the future of the race that has put Oman on the cycling map of the world.

A Muscat Municipality official said that the next deal, if signed, will be through 2021 and he was hopeful of the agreement.

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