Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) came close to his first victory of the season at the Tour of Oman despite the dangerous conditions of racing in the dark on the Muscat Corniche.
Farrar managed to latch onto the Team Sky lead out train in the final kilometre and finished fourth behind winner Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) and Belgian Kenny de Haes (Omega Pharma-Lotto).
Somehow all 126 riders in the race avoided crashing, despite darkness and a near total lack of barriers to hold back the huge crowds that came to see the first-ever major professional race on Oman.
"It was dangerous out there and you had to take crazy risks if you want to go for the win," Farrar told Cyclingnews after discussing the sprint with new lead out man Robert Hunter who has just arrived in the Gulf for the Tour.
"I think it would have been much better if we'd done it at four in the afternoon instead of at seven at night. Maybe that would be better for next year's race. It would make it a little safer for everybody."
"I tried to get up there but I wasn't ready to commit that little bit and take those extra risks in the dark. You can't really see the wheel in front of you when it's this dark and so there's not much you can do."
"I was debating if I wanted to try and sprint in these conditions because it was just not worth taking the risk. But I happened to be by Team Sky at the end and they went for it. It was suddenly all strung out and pretty safe, so I tried to sit on them and let them lead me out."
"Casper was right behind them and kind of got Boasson Hagen's wheel from me. I was half in the wind and that probably cost me a little bit in the sprint. But I'm happy with fourth considering the conditions we raced in. The most important thing was not to crash. "
Farrar and the rest of the field arrived for the six-day Tour of Oman on Saturday. He also rode the six-day Tour of Qatar and is happy to be racing in the sun, rather in the cold and wet conditions in Europe.
"This is going to make for a great block of racing: 12 days out of 13 is pretty solid. But it's a great way to start the year," he said with a smile, as the tension of the opening stage fading away.