Trek-Segafredo came into the Tour of Oman after a successful start to the season and with hopes of keeping the ball rolling. With no general classification leader, stage victories have been the main goal since landing in Muscat earlier this week.
Thus far, the team has been fairly active in their pursuit with Giacomo Nizzolo’s third place on stage 1 their highlight. Markel Irizar got them into the break on stage 3, and Peter Stetina lit things up for them again with a late attack on Al Jabal Street on stage 4.
The American went with around 20 kilometres to go, latching onto the remnants of the day’s break before going out on his own. It didn't work out for Stetina, but it gave him a chance to test his legs.
"You know the chances are low when you know that there are quite a few guys keen to win the stage but I'm not a sprinter but you never know you might get lucky. It's just about being aggressive in February and getting the nose for it," Stetina explained.
"I think they were playing a bit of a gamble by keeping the breakaway so close at under a minute. It got real close. Katusha was setting a really strong pace trying to keep it hard to drop the sprinters but not too hard to close the gap.
"I just felt good and tried to go for it. I got up to Rensburg but he was pretty toasted by the end and it was deceptively hard with a headwind into the final climb. I just tried to treat it like a 20-minute effort instead of a five-minute effort. Nibali's attack kind of sealed the deal over the top but I was with those guys and then it was just a case of sitting in the group until the finish."
There are still two more opportunities for the team to add a seventh victory to their palmarès and Stetina is eying the summit finish of Green Mountain on stage 5, while Nizzolo is lining up for the final day's sprint.
"We didn't come here with a big favourite, we're just hunting stages and trying to be aggressive. Nizzolo has a chance on the last stage. Tomorrow is Green Mountain so I'll be looking to test my form on the longer stuff, which is more my forte," he said. "We're not the favourites and we don't have pressure but we're trying to come away with something."
While Stetina hunts out a stage victory in Oman, his efforts are all geared towards his favourite race, and early-season goal, the Tour of California. He says that he wants to push his form and sitting in the bunch will not give him what he needs.
"It's all eyes on May and these efforts like today make it better and you have to put yourself through those motions rather than sit in the peloton and follow," Stetina said. "It's nice to be here this time of year. It's hot in California but it's cold in Europe. Cycling is so global now that you can really race in warm climates all year round and really hone the form the right way."
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