(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Tour de France champion Chris Froome begins the Tour of Oman as title favourite when the fifth edition gets underway on Tuesday.
The British rider from Team Sky is all geared up to defend his title and is expected to face challenge from some of the world's leading cyclists - Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain, Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Luxembourg's Schleck brothers - as Oman's mountainous terrain tests them in the six-stage race that concludes on February 23.
Last year, Froome had gone on to win the Tour de France after having triumphed in the Tour of Oman. ''I am aware of the fact that this competition was followed by my win in the Tour de France [last year]. I can say for sure that this year, I am much more relaxed and confident about winning,'' Froome said.
The details of the various stages and the Tour of Oman were announced at a press meet on Monday by chief organiser Eddy Merckx, Salim al Hassani, Deputy Director-General of Muscat Municipality, and Jean Francois Pescheux, competitions director of the UCI (International Cycling Union).
'Armstrong fallout still damaging us'
Froome said he is still hurt over the doping scandal that rocked cycling following Lance Armstrong's revelations last year.
''It (the Armstrong case) has done a lot of damage and it is still damaging us,'' said the rider. ''I guess, we (cyclists) have to live with it forever now.'