If Richie Porte had come into the Tour of Oman with any hopes of a strong general classification showing, they would have gone up in smoke on day one. The Australian was dropped on the final climb of stage 1 and eventually came home almost three and a half minutes down on the stage winner.
Speaking after the stage, Porte was unperturbed by the time loss saying that he hadn’t placed many expectations on his performance in Oman. “It was quite a tough stage, it was fast, quite warm but it wasn’t unexpected that I lost time,” Porte said. “I’m not really here with any ambitions; I’d rather just try to get through the race and try to get some form out of it. It’s a great race to get the kilometres in the legs. For me the big target next is Paris-Nice.”
The Tour of Oman is Porte's second stage race with the BMC team after finishing second overall, and taking a stage win at the Tour Down Under last month. His time loss could work to his advantage later in the week when the tougher climbs, such as Green Mountain, come into play with teams likely to be more willing to allow an attack. Porte isn’t thinking that far ahead though. “I’m just taking it day by day like we said from the start of it,” he said.
“I’m not feeling that fresh; I had a horrible journey here. It took a long time to get here from Australia with delayed flights and that sort of thing. I’m happy with the feeling but it’s just how it is. You can’t target every race in a year.”
BMC’s best finisher on stage 1 was Greg Van Avermaet, who crossed the line with the main chasing group to take seventh. Van Avermaet has already shown his form with third overall at the Tour of Qatar last week. Van Avermaet knew the Al Bustan finish from last year’s stage 2, where he finished fourth behind Fabian Cancellara, and had hoped to improve on that this time around.
“It was a really good stage for me, and I was hoping to win the stage,” explained Van Avermaet. “I was pretty good on the climb, I was third or fourth I think, but nobody wanted to control the race, and the other guys started to attack, and it was really hard to control. Three or four riders got away, and the race was over then. I was a little bit disappointed because I couldn’t sprint for the first place but it is like it is, it’s racing.”
Despite missing out on the victory on Tuesday, Van Avermaet was able to take some positives from his performance and is now looking to later in the week for another chance at success.
“I’m pretty good. Tomorrow is a pretty tough stage uphill; we’ll see how far I can go there. Maybe stage 5 is also good for me,” he said. “We’ll see day by day, but I’m really happy with my form because I was there with some good climbers on a short climb. I think this is a positive point that I was not suffering too much to be with the best guys on a climb like that.”
Stage 2 to Quriyat will provide another uphill test for the riders with a three –kilometre stage to finish the day.