CHRIS Froome laid down a marker for the season ahead as he confirmed his victory over all the major Tour de France contenders in the Tour of Oman yesterday.
Team Sky’s Froome, second overall in last year’s Tour behind team-mate and compatriot Bradley Wiggins, had won the fifth stage of the Oman race on Friday ahead of double Tour champion Alberto Contador, who also took second place overall yesterday.
The sixth and final stage was won by French champion Nacer Bouhanni as Froome secured his first major stage race victory by finishing in the main bunch to secure the same time as his general classification rivals.
Australian Cadel Evans took third place overall ahead of Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, winner of stage four on Green Mountain on Thursday. Froome’s second place on that stage gave him enough of a time advantage to take the overall lead, which he never relinquished.
Froome’s win was reminiscent of Wiggins’s Paris-Nice victory in 2012, when the 32-year-old rider also claimed the Tour de Romandie, the Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour.
Kenyan-born Froome went toe-to-toe with Contador, Rodriguez, Evans and Italian Vincenzo Nibali on the climbs as he snatched the leader’s red jersey on stage four.
Wiggins was never in contention but was purposely starting his season in a supporting role to Froome.