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It remains to be seen if his Astana team will be given a WorldTour licence for 2015 and, with it, invites to the WT events. However Tour de France organiser ASO has confirmed that Vincenzo Nibali will compete in next season’s Tour of Oman, heading there as the headline rider.
“The Tour of Oman holds a special place in Nibali’s cycling memories,” it said in a statement. “He ended a 17-month drought following his first overall victory in a Grand Tour [the 2010 Vuelta a España] when he claimed stage 5 to Jabal Al Akhdhar/Green Mountain and carried on to his successful campaigns of the past three years at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.”
Nibali finished second overall in that race and subsequently returned in 2013 and 2014. He was seventh and twelfth respectively, but built on those performances to win the Giro in 2013 and the Tour this year.
Also confirmed for the race is Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez, who is a past winner on the same Green Mountain climb. Giro d’Italia runner up Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) will be there, as will the young climbers Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Nibali’s team-mate Fabio Aru.
The latter two were best young riders in this year’s Tour de France and Giro d’Italia respectively.
Other big names have also been announced; former world champion Philippe Gilbert and his BMC Racing team-mate Tejay van Garderen will be there, the latter using the event as he builds up from his fifth place in this year’s Tour. Other former rainbow jerseys will also be there, namely Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) plus multiple world TT champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing).
Peter Sagan will be there with his new Tinkoff Saxo squad, as will other Classic contenders such as Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN Qhubeka) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), plus world hour record holder Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling).
Looking at other riders, Pinot will be joined by team-mates Kenny Elissonde, Steve Morabito and Arnold Jeannesson plus the team’s sprinter Arnaud Démare. The latter will go ahead with Nacer Bouhanni, who is moving from the team to Cofidis in 2015.
Niki Tersptra (Etixx-Quick Step) and French climber Warren Barguil (Alpecin-Giant) are also set to travel prior to the start on February 17.