In another first for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, our African team will line-up at the Tour of Oman which takes place from 17 - 22 February. The UCI 2.HC event has become a favourite season opener for cycling's grand tour contenders like 2 time winner Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez. Froome will not defend the title he won in 2014 though.
The Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders that make up the Oman roster include Edvald Boasson Hagen who has twice finished 2nd overall at the Tour of Oman and picking up 2 stage wins along the way. Our new South African champion, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, and Louis Meintjes will provide our team with some good climbing options for the races queen stage which finishes up Green Mountain on stage 4. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Matt Goss will be the riders for the fast finishes and Jaco Venter, Serge Pauwels and Youcef Reguigui will complement the remainder of the team.
The Tour of Oman route should throw up bunch sprints on Stages 1,2,3 and 6 although a number of opportunist would like to spoil the party. Stage 4 is the queen stage finishing atop Green Mountain, it is most likely that the General Classification will be decided here but stage 5's undulating parcours will also make for some attacking riding especially if the time gaps are still small. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will look to feature prominently throughout the race, particularly as the team will have a card to play on each stage.
The Tour of Oman is actually one of my goal races for the season. From the end of last year already it was a race I knew I wanted to perform well at. So in the last few weeks I've really been working hard on my explosive ability on the climbs to see if I can possibly get a result on the Green Mountain stage. Obviously if you are able to get a result on that stage than that should give you a good result on the GC, as long as you don't lose any time on the sprint stages. So definitely that is the goal in Oman. Also to go there as the new South African champion will be a big honour and I am excited to show off the jersey in Oman and throughout the rest of the season in Europe as well. For the last couple of years I have wanted to be the South African champion and now that I am, I will head into Oman and the rest of the season with increased confidence.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg - Rider
The Tour of Oman will be another race which will see our jerseys for the first time. Jacques Janse Van Rensburg will race for the first time in the S.A. champ colours too. He will have a strong team around him with our fast boys Goss, Boasson Hagen and Van Rensburg. The team will change 5 riders from the Qatar team after Theo Bos' crash. Tour of Oman is a really beautiful race with lots of high profile athletes on the start and we are proud to be part of it.
Jens Zemke - Head of Performance