Cycling: Chris Froome delighted after taking overall lead in the Tour of Oman

British rider on course to win first major stage race

Tour de France 2012 runner up Chris Froome confirmed he has hit the ground running in what could be the most important season of his career after he captured the overall lead of the Tour of Oman today -  ahead of all the other favourites for this July.

Oman is Froome’s first race of the season, when riders’ form is traditionally most uneven. But after taking on the mantle of Sky’s leader on Monday’s first stage and with Sky giving him strong team support - including Sir Bradley Wiggins -  today's key mountain test was where Froome was expected personally to deliver, and he duly did so. 

From the summit finish at the Green Mountain deep in central Oman’s Jabal Akhdar mountain range, Froome’s darkly clad figure could be picked out from a clear distance on the winding, steep approach road by spectators amongst the five strongest riders went clear: 2012 Tour podium figure Vincenzo Nibali, former Tour winners Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans, Froome himself and Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, who topped the World Individual Rider Ranking 2012.

Nicknamed Purito [‘the little cigar’] for his diiminutive form but potent climbing talents, Rodríguez proved unstoppable when he went clear in the last two kilometres. But whilst Froome could afford to let Rodríguez, no threat overall, gain the stage win, the Briton’s surging acceleration in the last kilometres saw him place second, a morale-boosting 23 seconds better than one of his biggest rivals for the Tour de France, Alberto Contador, who took fourth.

Now leading by 24 seconds over another top name, 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans, with two days racing remaining, Froome was delighted to have hit the bullseye after what he called “the first real test of my year. It’s extremely comforting to know that the winter has been a solid one, and I haven’t done a lot of high end training yet, so to get a result like this is a very good feeling.”

“Things went better today than expected. Having lost a bit of time on yesterday’s [Wednesday’s] last climb I was a bit apprehensive, but the team did a great job collectively and all that effort paid off.”

“I saw the 500-metre-to-go banner and wasn’t sure what was happening, I thought the climb continued to go up higher, but I realised I'd better get moving. After that I just tried to stay clear.”

Froome was at pains to preach caution and pointed out that Oman is very early in the season. But with his first stage race victory of his career - should he come through tomorrow’s second mountain stage unscathed - looking likely, not to mention his first race lead since the Tour of Spain in 2011, the omens in Oman for 2012 could hardly be bettered.

“The plan was for Chris to go for it, he did that and he’s took the jersey, it’s a brilliant day,” Sir Bradley Wiggins, making a more gradual buildup than Froome to top condition and who took his foot off the throttle when the main climb started, said afterwards.

“Chris is on his route towards the Tour de France and it’s a good start for him.”

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam