Bradley McGee knows a few things about great performances against the clock and he had nothing but praise for how Fabian Cancellara positioned himself for overall victory at the Tour of Oman and then sealed success with a huge effort in the final time trial. McGee won numerous time trials during his own professional career and was one of the best pursuit riders of his generation, winning Olympic medals and world titles.
Now a directeur sportif with Saxo Bank, McGee drove the team car during Cancellara's ride in the final time trial on Oman and watched as the big man from Switzerland was able to snatch overall victory. Cancellara is still far from his best form after missing a vital block of training due to illness in January and for McGee that made his performance even more impressive.
"He had to fight it all the way; not one pedal stroke was easy for him," McGee told Cyclingnews. "That's impressive for a guy of his caliber and his stature. But he spat on the gloves, gripped the handlebars tight and fought for it. It's pretty cool to watch from the team car."
After the ride Cancellara and McGee quickly began to discuss the ride. Their mutual respect and huge amount of time trial expertise was easy to see and if Cancellara does decide to go for the hour record, McGee would surely play an important role in the attempt.
McGee revealed Saxo Bank's strategy for the race. Success was always on objective but without losing sight of the real goal: laying down 12 days of quality training ready for the spring classics.
"The time trial was a big effort and a major focus for Fabian but there was no real push to win overall. We just positioned ourselves as well as possible during the other stages and let the win come to us," he said. "Of course we always knew that time trial would be a big day and Fabian's the best in the business. He sucks in all the pressure and then he's able to come out with a winning ride. That's why he's so good."
"The really important thing is that we've had two weeks of hard racing at the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman but we always kept the big picture in view. We've kept the classics in our minds, polished our team work, work on our conditioning as much as our results and we were careful not to do too much.
"I'm impressed how my guys handle it all. They all rode together as a team and never exposed anyone to anything too much physically. And the result is that they came away with the win as well as some good form," added McGee.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.