A senior Tour of Oman official has said that the future of the event is under question, with no decision made as yet in relation to the continued backing beyond the 2016 edition.
“It’s the last tour…for time being it is,” Habib Al Zawawi, Supervisor of Sports Events and Tour of Oman at Muscat Municipality, confirmed to the Times of Oman.
However he also stated that he wasn’t given up hope. Al Zawawi, who is also a member of the organising committee, said that talks will take place during this year’s event. The seventh edition will begin on February 16 and there will be greater clarity after that point.
“There will be negotiations. So it depends,” he said. “Either to renew it or if that (2016 edition) will be the last one… It depends; there will be negotiations during the tour. By the end of tour we will come to know. There will be official announcement about it.”
Taking place after the Tour of Qatar, the race is on more varied terrain and has been won by some of the top names in the sport.
Fabian Cancellara took the inaugural edition in 2010, with Robert Gesink, Peter Velits, Chris Froome – who took two editions – and 2015 champion Rafael Valls topping the podium since then.
The Municipality of Muscat, the Oman Cycling Federation and Tour de France organisers ASO all collaborate in running the event.
A total of 18 teams have confirmed their participation in this year’s race. These include WorldTour squads Etixx-Quick Step, BMC Racing Team, Katusha, Team Dimension Data, Ag2r La Mondiale, Giant-Alpecin, Astana, Lampre-Merida and LottoNL – Jumbo.
They will be joined by another nine squads, namely Drapac Professional Cycling, Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise, Wanty Groupe Gobert, Stölting Cycling, Fortuneo Vital Concept, Bora – Argon 18, Roompot-Oranje Peloton, United Healthcare Pro Cycling and CCC Sprandi Polkowice.
Several other teams indicated they couldn’t take part due to busy schedules.
The race starts on February 16 with a 141 kilometre stage to Bandar Al Roudha, and runs until February 21.