Costa had a quiet enough start to the Tour of Oman, losing time on a stage 2 finish that would have ordinarily suited him. Following the third stage, Costa admitted that he had been struggling with illness, which had prevented him from training properly, so he was surprised and pleased to secure a podium result.
"The performance today was important for me for my morale," Costa said after the finish. "It helps me look confidently to the next races. In fact, second place is a good result for me considering that during the last two weeks I wasn't able to train very well because of a cold. I feel that my form is on the rise, the next days of this race will allow me to find that last little bit that I need."
The Tour of Oman has been getting increasingly harder as the week has gone on and stage 3 continued that trend with another visit to the climb of Al Jabal Street, before tackling the climbs of Quriyat and Wadi Dayqah. Between those climbs were a string of winding and undulating roads that tested the peloton. UAE Team Emirates kept a quiet watch in the bunch, sending just one rider up to help Katusha-Alpecin in controlling the four-man break out front.
Astana set about breaking up the peloton on the run into the final before BMC Racing muscled their way to the front as the final rise to the dam reared up. Feeling like he had a shot at the win, Costa sought to hang onto the coattails of the American squad but lost grip with Van Avermaet accelerated towards the line.
"Today I had good feelings coming into the final," Costa said. "So, on the descent coming into that ramp [to the dam], I put myself on the wheels of the BMC riders working for Van Avermaet in order to control him. Unfortunately for me, Greg was going well and shot off from behind with a really quick attack. He immediately gained enough ground so that he couldn't be caught. He was really strong."
Behind him, Costa's European champion teammate Alexander Kristoff came across the line just 14 seconds down. He was always going to struggle against more explosive uphill riders such as Van Avermaet on Costa, but it bodes well for a tilt at stage 4. The Norwegian won the stage in 2017, after fighting back on in the run from the top of the Al Jabal Street climb to the line.