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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 30/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Top Belgian cycling team, Lotto-Belisol, has decided to skip the fourth edition of the Tour of Oman, which is scheduled to be held from February 12-17.Lotto-Belisol's sporting director, Marc Sergeant, announced the early season programme on its team's website on Friday, explaining that it was decided to give the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman a miss since a much different path has been chosen in the lengthy build-up to the main events of 2013. Last year, Lotto-Belisol had started its programme by participating in Qatar, Oman, the Algarve and Andalusia Tours. Sergeant said that this year the team has opted for races in Gabon, Argentina and France instead.In the 2012 Tour of Oman, Lotto-Belisol's German rider Andre Greipel had won stages one and four, while teammate Lars Bak of Denmark had finished 21st in the general classification in a field of 120 riders. The Belgian team will begin racing on January 14 in Gabon, with another selection of riders competing in Argentina from January 21, and a third group in Australia from January 20. The riders in Europe will contest two races in France from January 30.Sergeant said, ''The Tour Down Under, which is a World Tour race, is a certainty for us. Ten years ago, it was an adventure to go to Australia during the preparation, but now, it's only logical for guys like Greipel and [Jurgen] Roelandts to do it.'' On opting out of the Qatar and Oman trips, Sergeant said, ''We won't ride the Tour of Qatar or the Tour of Oman [in 2013], but we might go back there in the future. ''The organisation asked us to come out with a strong roster, but we noticed last year that riding in Qatar and Oman right away after the Tour Down Under is a bit too much.Several of those guys got ill in the [subsequent] Paris-Nice race.'' Lotto-Belisol's big-stage rider, Jurgen Van den Broeck, has decided to get his year underway in Argentina. The Belgian was fourth in the 2012 Tour de France and will be relying on the right build-up in his bid for the podium in the 2013 race. At the 2012 Tour of Oman, Lotto-Belisol was represented by eight riders and had finished 11th among 16 teams.


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