Tour of Oman 2014: stage five – five observations

Froome, Team Sky, Preben Van Hecke, fixture congestion...and July

The burden of defending champion has been borne lightly by Chris Froome.

So far is the Team Sky leader from resting on his laurels that he seems intent on bettering his performance at last year’s Tour of Oman.

While in 2013 he had assumed the red tunic of race leader by finishing second at the summit of Green Mountain to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), the repeat fixture saw Froome deliver one of the most emphatic victories of his career. Is a second consecutive overall victory in Oman now inevitable?

Chris Froome pulled on the red jersey of race leader at the end of stage five of the 2014 Tour of Oman. pic: ASO/Bruno Bade

Froome has been able to rely on strong support from a squad that while laden with talent might be considered weaker than that sent by Sky to the Ruta del Sol to support Ritchie Porte. Is Sir Dave Brailsford already considering his selections for the Tour de France?

And with even Sir Dave’s sizable squad unable to cover the third big stage race of early February – the Volta ao Algarve – are cycling’s elite teams facing the fixture congestion so often complained of by the managers of European football’s biggest clubs?

Preben Van Hecke may not be a household name, but the 31-year-old Belgian has certainly left his mark on the 2014 Tour of Oman. Is the jersey of most aggressive rider the hardest of them all to win?

And how much can we learn about the battles likely to shape the Tour de France from a race in February? Is it too easy to read too much in to a race held some five months in advance of cycling’s biggest event? Or can we reach legitimate conclusions already?

Read our five observations on stage five of the 2014 Tour of Oman, or add your own in the RCUK Forum.

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