While the main storylines of the Criterium du Duaphine stage 4 time trial revolved around the Tour de France contenders and their relative fortunes, Sam Oomen put in an impressive performance to move into the white jersey for best young rider, suggesting the talented Dutchman could be on his way to his standout result among the pros.
Oomen was signed by Sunweb from the Rabobank development team for the 2016 season and, such was his promise after an eye-catching string of results at U23 level, he was handed a three-year deal.
After winning the Tour de l'Ain in his neo-pro year, Oomen has quietly impressed again in 2017 with a higher calibre race programme, taking ninth overall at the Tour of California. At the Dauphiné, where almost every Tour de France contender is laying the foundations for July, he finished 12th in the stage 4 time trial to put himself ninth overall.
"For me personally it would have been a bit nicer if it was a bit more uphill like the TT in Paris-Nice, but I can be quite happy with this results," Oomen told Cyclingnews in Bourgoin-Jallieu before going to the podium to pull on the maillot blanc.
"I always used to be a time triallist in the juniors. I was good at riding uphill, but that developed later. Actually, I was more of a time trial rider in the past, than I am now. But still both are going quite well."
Being able to both climb and time trial is the simple and complicated combination required of a general classification rider. That's certainly the plan for the future, though, well aware that staying with the big guns on the mountain stages to come in the Dauphiné will be a tall order, Oomen is simply taking this week as it comes.
"Warren [Barguil] is just coming back from his injury and building his shape towards the Tour de France and that gives me the chance to have a certain freedom in this race. The team doesn't want to put any pressure on me doing GC. We're just seeing how strong I am in the Alps – no pressure at all," said Oomen.
"The climbs in the Alps between the guys who will go to the Tour will be much different than a time trial of 30 minutes, so we have to see how that will develop – we'll have to see how strong I am there.
"Maybe if I'm seeing that I'm not capable of doing that, we can change that and go on the attack or something. I've quite a lot of freedom, and that pleases me."
Oomen has enjoyed a solid start to life in the professional ranks and has clearly started to build on the obvious promise, though he insists there's still a long way to go.
"I know I'm a decent rider, but I don't know, I still think I need to find my place a bit," he said. "I'm not at the moment seeing myself as a big guy in the pros. Hopefully, that will come one day."
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