Muscat – Britain's Tour de France champion Christopher Froome successfully defended his Tour of Oman title on Sunday following the sixth and final stage in Muscat.
The 28-year-old Kenyan-born Team Sky rider topped the overall classification ahead of American Tejay Van Garderen and Colombian Rigoberto Uran.
The sixth stage was won by German sprinter Andre Greipel, his third stage win of the week, as he edged out Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni with Ireland's Sam Bennett third.
While Greipel rejoiced in what has been a stunning start to the season with six victories in all, 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, who spent his teenage years and was educated in South Africa.
“We didn't get our preparation wrong. The season has been launched successfully.”
Froome was also satisfied in 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.
“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 which was won by Froome's team-mate Bradley Wiggins Ä finished just 26 seconds adrift of the winner.
“Even if I felt I was on form I did not know too much with respect to where I was in comparison to my rivals,” he said.
“Thus I am reassured by this 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 de France in July in perfect shape,” added Van Garderen, who was a disappointing 45th in the race last year. – Sapa-AFP