"It's shows I did my homework in the winter"
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) needed just a couple of minutes to recover from his intense effort on Green Mountain before offering his version of events on the 5.7km, 10.5% climb at the end of stage 5 of the Tour of Oman.
The race is the American's first of the 2014 season but he showed his form and class by finishing second behind winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Froome was on another level as he used his egg-beating pedal stroke to scale the twisting road, but van Garderen was impressive as he distanced Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Robert Gesink (Belkin).
He finished 22 seconds behind Froome and is now 26 seconds down overall, but his place on the final podium in Muscat on Sunday seems assured.
"I'm definitely happy with where I'm at," van Garderen said as he wiped down his face with a towel and took a drink before riding down the climb to the awaiting team cars.
"I've put in a good winter of training. I'm coming off a fair bit of jet leg and it's my first race of the year, while some of these other guys have done two stage races. I was playing it kind of safe and not getting ahead of myself but I'm happy to be the runner-up behind Froome. It shows I did my homework in the winter."
Van Garderen then gave a blow by blow account of the decisive final two kilometres of the brutal climb to the finish.
"[Sergio] Henao was up the road and then Gesink put in an attack too. After his go, everyone in the group was looking pretty tired. I was thinking that if I could get away clean with Henao, then the tactics would dictate that Froome would stay in the group because he had a teammate up. But Froome was being careful; he followed my wheel and countered me as soon as we caught Henao.
"At that point I didn’t try to bury myself with Froome: that can be a mistake sometimes. I tried to stay with my tempo and it looks like I held him pretty evenly. He was probably pulling away a bit but all in all, for the first race of the year, it's gone okay."
Van Garderen will now target Paris-Nice, buoyed by his good ride in Oman. "The form is obviously there,” he said. “It was definitely good to confirm that and get some confidence. I've definitely still got a lot of work to do but it's a good starting point.”
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