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MUSCAT (AFP) — Chris Froome (Sky) defended his Tour of Oman title on Sunday following the sixth and final stage in Muscat.
The 28-year-old topped the overall classification ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won the sixth stage, his third stage win of the week, as he edged out Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) with Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) third.
While Greipel rejoiced in what has been a stunning start to the season with six victories to date, Froome was the rider wearing the broadest smile, describing his week’s work as the perfect beginning to his season.
“This success is a reward for a winter spent resting and then intensive training in South Africa,” said Froome. “We didn’t get our preparation wrong. The season has been launched successfully.”
Froome was also satisfied with his overall level of fitness after on Saturday he had broken the speed record for the climb of the Green Mountain.
“My level of form is similar to that of last year at the same time, if not better,” he said. “I must not take my foot off the pedal because I could tell this week that other riders are making progress.”
Van Garderen would have been one of those as the 25-year-old American — fifth in the 2012 Tour de France, won by Froome’s teammate Bradley Wiggins — finished just 26 seconds adrift of the winner.
The American said he felt he was on form going into the race and was reassured by his performance.
“This fantastic result will give me confidence and above all the hunger to work even harder in order that I arrive at the Tour de France in July in perfect shape,” added Van Garderen, who was a disappointing 45th in the Tour last year.