Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, of the Katusha team, won the fourth stage of the Tour of Oman on Thursday, as Britain’s Chris Froome snatched the overall leader’s red jersey.
Rodriguez was victorious on the mountaintop finish to the 143km stage, finishing four seconds ahead of Froome, of Sky, and 22 seconds in front of Australia’s Cadel Evans of the BMC team.
Rodriguez’s compatriot Alberto Contador was fourth, 27 seconds back.
In the overall standings, Froome took the red jersey from Slovakia’s Peter Sagan and now leads by a margin of 24 seconds from Evans and 25 seconds from Contador.
Sagan was some way off the pace on the day, as was Froome’s compatriot, and Sky team-mate, Bradley Wiggins.
“I owe the red jersey to the team today, they were fantastic,” said Froome.
“With riders like Bradley Wiggins who helped position me into the climb, riders like Ritchie Porte who helped me on the slope, just to control the breakaway, it’s a complete team effort today, it had to pay off.
“It was very tactical between Contador, (Vincenzo) Nibali and Rodriguez, with a few accelerations, each time leaving me behind a bit (…) I thought I’d better get moving, and I made a move and just tried to stay clear,” Froome said of the gruelling climb to the finish.
Friday’s fifth stage is a 144km ride from Al Alam Palace to the Ministry of Housing in Boshar.
“Tomorrow is gonna be very hard, it’s by no means over yet,” added Froome.
The six-stage race concludes on Saturday.