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PARIS (AFP) — This year’s Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will headline the sixth edition of the Tour of Oman from February 17-22, organizers announced on Thursday.
The Italian has already competed in the race and in 2012 won the toughest stage to the summit of Jabal Al Akhdhar — the Green Mountain.
While Oman is not a WorldTour event, the rest of Nibali’s 2015 race schedule is currently in question as the UCI re-evaluates the Kazakhstan-based team’s license for 2015. If the team does not receive a WorldTour license, Nibali would not be able to defend his Tour title, and would instead spend 2015 racing lower-tier events on the UCI Continental circuits. A decision is expected early next week.
Tour of Oman will include other climbers, notably Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), winner on the summit of the Green Mountain in 2013, French rider Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Italian Fabio Aru (Astana) and Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
The field also includes French champion Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) and his soon-to-be former teammate Nacer Bouhanni, and Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano). Swiss hard-man Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) will also race, along with Slovak Peter Sagan (Cannondale), American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), and several former world champions including Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).