Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) took heart from his second-place performance in Al Bustan on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman, despite being denied the stage victory yet again. Van Avermaet added a fourth straight top-10 result on the uphill finish, this time beaten on the line by a late surge from Katusha-Alpecin's Nathan Haas.
While he clearly would have liked to take his first win at the Tour of Oman, the result is a sign for Van Avermaet that his form is heading in the right direction.
"Every year. I'm used to getting second or third here before. It’s a great example of my form, and we'll try to do the best tomorrow also, and I'm pretty happy with how it has gone so far," he said, still sweating from the effort over the final climb and up to the finish.
"This kind of climb is a short effort, and you can see that the classics guys can get over together with the climbers. For me, it was good training and a good way to see how my form is."
Van Avermaet has targeted the Al Bustan finish on each occasion that he's ridden the Tour of Oman because the slight drag to the finish suits his Classics capabilities.
His BMC Racing team came into the final at a stinging pace to set up Van Avermaet, as did the Astana team – to thin the bunch out. They had to reel back a number of attacks, including a threatening move from Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors).
Just 14 riders remained as they approached the final rise to the line, but Van Avermaet admitted afterwards that he made his move too early, which left the door open for Haas to take the win.
"It was a nice finish for me," he said. "With the whole team, we tried to put me in a good position. I think that everybody did their best, but I just couldn't do it. I came a little bit too early to really finish it off, and one guy was able to come over me and then I was second."
There are still four stages remaining of the 2018 Tour of Oman, and Van Avermaet is determined to add himself to the riders that have won a stage of the Middle East race.
"I will try to take a stage," he said. "I think that is the most important thing. Today was a good chance, but we will try again tomorrow, and we will see."