Britain’s Tour de France champion Christopher Froome successfully defended his Tour of Oman title following the sixth and final stage on Sunday in Muscat.
The 28-year-old Kenyan-born Team Sky rider topped the overall classification ahead of American Tejay Van Garderen and Colombian Rigoberto Uran.
The sixth stage was won by German sprinter Andre Greipel, his third stage win of the week.
He edged Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, with Ireland’s Sam Bennett third.
While Greipel rejoiced in what has been a strong start to the season with six victories in all, Froome was the rider wearing the broadest smile, describing his week’s work as the perfect beginning to his season.
“This success is a reward for a winter spent resting and then intensive training in South Africa,” said Froome, who spent his teenage years and was educated in South Africa.
“We didn’t get our preparation wrong.
“The season has been launched successfully.”
Froome was also satisfied in his overall level of fitness. On Saturday, he broke the speed record for the climb of the Green Mountain on stage five, when he dominated the 147.5-kilometre run to come out on top.
He picked up 22 seconds on Van Garderen during the stage, and when added to the four seconds he already had in hand over his rival, it ensured that he could cruise home in the pack yesterday.
“My level of form is similar to that of last year at the same time, if not better,” he said.
“I must not take my foot off the pedal, because I could tell this week that other riders are making progress.”
Van Garderen, 25, was certainly in that group. The American – fifth in the 2012 Tour de France won by Froome teammate Bradley Wiggins – finished 26 seconds adrift of the winner in Oman.
“Even if I felt I was on form, I did not know too much with respect to where I was in comparison to my rivals,” Van Garderen said.
“Thus, I am reassured by this performance.
“This fantastic result will give me confidence, and above all, the hunger to work even harder in order that I arrive at the Tour de France in July in perfect shape.”
Van Garderen was a disappointing 45th in the race last year.
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