Muscat: The Haute Route Oman cycling event finished with a flourish in Misfat Al Abriyeen on Sunday as a field of 120 cyclists from 28 countries completed their three-day adventure in the Sultanate of Oman.
After two days and more than 250 kilometres of challenging riding – which included long and iconic road climbs up both Al Jabal Al Akhdhar and Jabal Haat – the amateur riders taking part in Haute Route Oman took on a 28 km time trial finale.
Setting out from Tanuf in still conditions, a slight contrast to the testing winds the field faced on the mountain courses, riders made a fast start on flat rolling roads from the ancient town of Tanuf, passing through beautiful landscapes and exceptional vistas. Then came the sting in the tail, a relentless series of steep switchbacks and climbs as the course ascended towards the finish in Misfat Al Abriyeen.
The day was won by a no-stranger to time trials, Britain’s Jonathan Shubert, who clawed back time on the overall leader Collin Peck at the stage, but not nearly enough to deny the rider the Haute Route Oman title. He finished the time trial in 48:43 while Peck had it 51:26. The stage saw Oman’s Abdullah al Ghailani crossing the finish with a remarkable 51:59, just a few seconds from overall leader Peck.
In the women classification, the finale had a close contention between Ireland’s Eimear D’arcy and Finland’s Laura Patrikainen, with only a second difference in the time trial stage. Cycling YouTuber Keira McVitty claimed the third-place medal in front of a cheering crowd in Misfat. Having delivered consistent performance in all stages, Patrikainen clinched a well-deserved title, followed by D’arcy, then Britain’s Jessica Upton in third place.
Keen on making a mark in the ranking, local riders were determined to apply their local knowledge of the climbs and descends, with riders taking part as solo riders such as the 15 supported by Daleel Petroleum, and riders representing the Royal Army of Oman and the Royal Oman Police as teams. In the Solo front, Mundher al Hasni, a keen cyclist, managed to get in 11th position overall.
The 120 riders returned to the Haute Route Oman base in Nizwa for the closing ceremony.
Haute Route Oman is part of the world-renowned Haute Route events that offer a ‘professional’ road cycling experience for keen amateur cyclists as well as high-end hospitality, rider services and expert event management in a setting that mirrors the culture of the professional road racing circuit.
Oman already features a varied range of cycling events that celebrate the Sultanate’s idyllic riding conditions and unrivalled scenery, notably the annual professional Tour of Oman road race and the amateur 100-mile Muscat Century Ride. At the same time, a rapidly expanding network of off-road cycling and hiking trails highlight Oman’s fast-growing appeal as a world-class sports tourism destination. –ONA