MUSCAT, Oman (AP) — Tour de France runner-up Christopher Froome won the Tour of Oman Saturday, holding off Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans to claim his first stage-race victory.
Froome, a Team Sky rider who grabbed the lead after the fourth stage, crossed the Matrah Corniche in Muscat as part of the peloton to safely protect his 27-second lead over Contador, the two-time Tour de France winner who rides for Team Saxo.
Evans, who won the Tour de France in 2011, was a further 12 seconds back in third.
"It wasn't just a straight forward finish, it had a little bit of a climb on the final circuit which made it a test right down to the last couple of kilometers," Froome said.
Team Saxo Sporting Director Lars Michaelsen said Froome deserved the win after holding off Contador's challenge.
"An overall second place is not exactly a dream position but that's often the feeling when you're so close to the top spot," Michaelsen said. "However, we did what we could to get the win and Alberto fought hard and gave everyone a spectacular race. But Froome demonstrated more than once that's he can keep coming back after several fierce moves from Alberto and we respect that."
French national champion Nacer Bouhanni won the 89.5-mile sixth stage, which started in Hawit Nagam Park southeast of the capital, in 3 hours, 24 minutes, 20 seconds. He sprinted to victory ahead of Matthew Goss of Orica GreenEdge and Taylor Phinney of BMC Racing.
With 15 ½ miles to go, a trio of riders led by Katusha's Gatis Smukulis had more than a minute's lead ahead of a pack of about 80 riders. The trio was caught on the final circuit on the Matrah Corniche, with the remaining riders bunched all the way to the final stretch.