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.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee