Key points:
 Defending winner of the Tour of Oman, Jan Hirt returns to the Sultanate with a new team, Soudal Quick-Step, where he joins forces with his runner-up from last year, Fausto Masnada.
 A 2-time winner of the race, Alexey Lutsenko is also back at the helm of Astana Qazaqstan Team alongside Mark Cavendish, participating in his first races with the Asian team.
 Fastmen such as Pascal Ackermann, puncheurs like Davide Formolo and climbers as talented as Emanuel Buchmann and Cian Uijtdebroeks also eye success on the explosive course of the Muscat Classic and the demanding roads of the Tour of Oman.

A familiar face with a new kit. The defending winner of the Tour of Oman Jan Hirt returns to the Sultanate, which will now host two races with the maiden edition of the Muscat Classic (February 10) on the eve of the 12th Tour of Oman. But the Czech climber comes to defend new colors: Soudal Quick-Step’s, where he joins forces with one of his main rivals from last year’s Tour of Oman, Fausto Masnada, winner of a thrilling stage 4 in Muscat and runner-up in the final overall standings. The Wolfpack is once again expected to shine in the desert, with other assets such as Mauri Vansevenant to shake the race and Tim Merlier to show his speed.

Some of the strongest opposition should come from Hirt’s former team, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty. In 2022, Rein Taaramäe was an essential asset to propel the Czech climber towards victory. This time, the Estonian veteran partners up with South-Africa’s pocket climber Louis Meintjes, who made history again last year with a stage win in La Vuelta and a place in the top 10 of the Tour de France… just ahead of Alexey Lutsenko, whose mix of punch and power have already granted him many successes in the Sultanate.

A 2-time winner of the overall standings of the Tour of Oman (2018, 19), Lutsenko has notably won stages up Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain) and in Al Bustan, where the finish of the Muscat Classic is set. Will he launch another furious attack? Or will Astana Qazaqstan Team play one of their other strong cards to claim more success in Oman? The Asian team are used to shining in the Sultanate and they’re coming with the British icon Mark Cavendish (2 stage wins in the Tour of Oman) as well as the Under 23 world champion Yevgeniy Fedorov. Lutsenko also won the U23 rainbow jersey, in 2012, and so did Kristoffer Halvorsen (2016), the road captain for Uno-X as the Norwegian keeps growing towards their first participation in the Tour de France.

Among the strongest teams in the world, UAE Team Emirates also line up an elite sprinter, Pascal Ackermann, along punchy options such as Diego Ulissi and Davide Formolo. Classic experts like AG2R Citroën’s Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen will also be willing to bring battle on any occasion while climbers such as Ivan Sosa (Movistar) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) eye the final battles up Green Mountain, where Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) hopes to shine again (3rd in 2018, 6th in 2019).

Buchmann will join forces with the winner of the 2022 Tour de l’Avenir, Cian Uijtdebroeks who, on the eve of his 20th anniversary, appears ready to battle with the best riders in the world. The Belgian wonderkid won’t be the only young talent taking on the desert, as he faces the likes of Andrii Ponomar (Team Arkéa-Samsic), Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny), Roger Adria (Equipo Kern Pharma), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar)… As for the Oman national champion, Faisal Almammari, he turned 23 years old last month and is more than willing to show the world the local grit.

18 teams: the main participants

Bingoal WB: Kenneth Van Rooy
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty: Louis Meintjes
Lotto Dstny: Thomas De Gendt, Maxim Van Gils
Soudal Quick-Step: Jan Hirt, Tim Merlier

AG2R Citroën Team: Greg Van Avermaet, Oliver Naesen
Cofidis: Jesus Herrada, Axel Zingle
Team Arkéa-Samsic: Jenthe Biermans, Andrii Ponomar

Bora-Hansgrohe: Emanuel Buchmann, Cian Uijtdebroeks

JCL Team Ukyo: Benjamin Prades

Astana Qazaqstan Team: Mark Cavendish, Alexey Lutsenko

Terengganu Polygon Cycling: Jambaljamts Sainbayar

Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Kristoffer Halvorsen

Oman National Team: Faisal Almammari

Burgos-BH: Miguel Angel Fernandez
Equipo Kern Pharma: Roger Adria
Movistar: Ivan Sosa, Matteo Jorgenson

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Pascal Ackermann, Davide Formolo

United States of America
Human Powered Health: Stanislaw Aniolkowski