Oomen subs in at Tour de Suisse to support Kelderman

Giro hero will 'make the most of it' in Switzerland

A fortnight after securing his first Grand Tour finish and ninth overall at the Giro d'Italia, Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) is back in the saddle at the Tour de Suisse.

The 22-year-old played a crucial part in Team Sunweb's Giro challenge, helping Tom Dumoulin to second overall while enhancing his own reputation with a number of assured rides in the mountains. Although he is far from the finished article and still developing, the young Sunweb rider is back on super-domestique duties in Switzerland as teammate Wilco Kelderman aims for a GC challenge of his own.

Oomen was only down as a reserve for the Tour de Suisse but a last-minute change saw Lennard Kamna - who hasn't raced since Milan-San Remo - drop out and Oomen come in.

"I'm not super tired but I'm not in super shape either," Oomen told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 2.

"Yesterday in the TTT I had a really hard time in the first kilometre but after that, once I reached a high lactic level, things weren't so bad. For sure, finishing a Grand Tour was a new experience, but so too is doing a race right after with the Tour de Suisse. I'm here to support Wilco and also to help contribute in the sprint train for Michael Matthews but I'm mainly here for Wilco. I was just the reserve and Kamna was supposed to race here but now that I'm here I'll make the best out of it."

While the current focus is on Suisse, the memory of Oomen singlehandedly trying to take on a wave of Team Sky domestiques at the Giro d'Italia is still fresh.

Talk of Oomen's talents have circled since his junior days and he looked on track for a decent ride at his first Grand Tour last year before illness took him out of the Vuelta a Espana. Simply making it to the Giro d'Italia finish in Rome was a major accomplishment but Oomen's solid ride and final GC position were a telling reminder of why Team Sunweb offered him a three-year contract rather than the standard two-year deals that most riders enjoy.

"There was so much satisfaction to just reach Rome in the first place. I think the results that we had with Tom, and also with myself, were really good. It confirmed that he's one of the best Grand Tour riders in the world at the moment.

"For me, I never had a super feeling during the Giro but that's apparently not needed," he replied when asked what he had learned from his first three-week adventure.

"It also makes sense that if you don't have super legs in the first week, or the first two weeks you're not going to have super legs in the third week because the racing gets tougher. So, I learned that even though you might not feel super great, in the third week, unless you're completely fucked, you can still do a good job. I didn't completely die, and if you don't completely die then you can still be up there in the final week."

Of course, there is a marked difference between riding as a super-domestique and securing ninth, and leading a team through an entire Grand Tour. Time is on Oomen's side, and he will take time to reflect on his season's achievements when he takes a deserved vacation during July. The Tour de France and the Vuelta are not on his programme, meaning a return to Grand Tour racing could come at next year's Giro or Tour.

"I didn't have any pressure from the team but I felt it from myself a little bit. I really wanted to be there for Tom and in that case, I felt some pressure. There were some stages where I wasn't able to be there for him in the final and I felt shit after that. What people forget is that I did a good job in the final week but the big pressure, all the media and the real stress factors, Tom took them all away from me. I also had no pressure from the team so I could take shelter in those cases. That helped me stay mentally fresh."

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