Two major races are going on right now in southern parts of Europe and Asia as the pro tour teams warm up before the plunge into the harsh northern cold of Belgium and France. The Tour of Oman is another sprinters speciality, giving the big guys a chance to hone their skills for Milan-San Remo, and likely will see someone of the skillset of Peter Sagan take the crown. The Volta ao Algarve in Southern Portugal is the climbers warm-up race, with more undulating terrain, and is likely to see Tiago Machado or Rui Costa finish up on the podium. Both Oman and Algarve conclude on Sunday after 6 and 5 stages of racing respectively. Note: The Volta ao Algarve can be viewed free and daily on the RTP2-Portugal website
Tour of Oman – 6 Stages, 877km
Andre Greipel, who is carrying some serious early season form won his second stage today – having also won the first stage – and he currently holds the leader’s jersey. The other two stage wins have come from the aforementioned Peter Sagan and other young speedster, the German Marcel Kittel.
Overall Top Three after 4 stages
1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)_____13h36’33”
2. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)____________+06″
3. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat)_______+18″
The Tour of Oman has some serious money and production behind it, and is gaining exposure and talent all the time. Check out these highlight videos, they are almost as amazing as the landscape:
Stage 1 – Greipel opens the Tour with a crushing performance
Stage 2 – Sagan wins a brutally tough stage.
Stage 3 – Kittel hangs on and Cav bails…?
Stage 4 – Greipel destroys ’em again.
Volta ao Algarve – 5 stages, 746km
This race is a little more balanced, stacking up as an actual mini-tour. Today featured the one climbing stage (although to be fair Oman has a mountain stage tomorrow) with Richie Porte taking the win and the overall. The race ends on Sunday with a time trial and that works nicely for the Sky team and Porte because he is a speedster against the clock. Tiago Machado, the local favorite isn’t so bad in the TT either, and he sits in second place, so maybe we’ll have an exciting finish on our hands. Gianni Meersman and Eddy Boss won Stage 1 and Stage 2 respectively, but were dropped on today’s uphill finish.
Overall Top Three after Three Stages
1. Richie Porte (Sky)_________13h54’41”
2. Tiago Machado (R-N-T)______+:12″
2. Rui Costa (Movistar)_______+:14″
Stage 1 – Meersman surprises all of them
Stage 2 – Eddy Boss is no surprise
Stage 3 – Richie Porte takes the uphill finish in today’s stage