Tejay van Garderen is confident about his prospects at the Tour of Oman after a strong finish to stage 2. The BMC rider held his own in the action packed finalé as some of the big favourites saw their hopes of overall victory dealt a big blow. Van Garderen came home in the same group as Fabian Cancellara moving into ninth place and keeping himself in contention for the general classification later in the week.
“It’s the first race of the year and I didn’t really know what to expect. I think I like where we stand,” van Garderen told Cyclingnews at the finish in Al Bustan.
Stage 2 proved the undoing of some of the overall contenders, including Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) as the peloton split under the pace set by Movistar. As the peloton approached the finish their number had been reduced to 18 select riders. BMC managed to get two into the leading group with van Garderen and their hope for the day’s victory Greg van Avermaet.
“Movistar seemed really motivated over the first climb and they were making the tempo hard until the final KOM. Valverde tried some really hard attacks and I was on his wheel. (Rafal) Majka tried a good attack and I even had a dig myself.”
The American’s move off the front ultimately failed and he was reeled back in by the baying bunch. It wasn’t to be for Van Avermaet either, who came across the line in third place, but van Garderen takes heart from both of their performances and hopes that there is more to come later in the week.
“Greg was obviously going for the win and I was trying to play my cards with the GC guys,” van Garderen explained. “Greg was really strong today and it’s a pity that he didn’t take the stage but I think that we can both take confidence and go for victories later in the week.”
Stage 3 should be a fairly straightforward affair for the GC contenders, should they stay out of the sprinters' way, with two loops around the race hotel’s sports complex. There are still harder stages to come in the second half of the race with the mountain top finish at Green Mountain, where van Garderen finished behind Chris Froome in last year’s race and went on to take second in the overall classification at the end of the race.
After a strong start to the race Van Garderen is looking to put up a stiff challenge on the race’s single summit finish on Friday. “We’ll see. I mean Majka and (Alejandro) Valverde are both looking strong but I will give it a go.”