Oman stage win for Froome
Team Sky's Chris Froome won the fifth stage of the Tour of Oman to consolidate his overall lead ahead of Saturday's final day.
Froome claimed a morale-boosting victory in a duel which could continue in this summer's Tour de France, winning the 144-kilometre route from Al Alam Palace to Ministry of Housing in Boshar ahead of Spain's Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff).
Contador, who finished narrowly behind in the late dash for the line, is second overall ahead of Saturday's 144km sixth stage from Hawit Nagam Park to Matrah Corniche, with Froome holding a 27-second lead in the leader's red jersey.
Froome, who is riding in the same Team Sky squad as Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins for the first time since last July, is on course to win his first major stage race.
The 27-year-old Kenya-born Briton finished runner-up at the 2012 Tour and 2011 Vuelta a Espana, but his stated goal for 2013 is the 100th Tour, which begins in Corsica on June 29.
Wiggins is targeting May's Giro d'Italia, the year's first Grand Tour.
Should Froome succeed in Oman, his victory would be reminiscent of successes for Wiggins in 2012, the Londoner winning the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races before making his successful challenge for the fabled yellow jersey.