Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) received confirmation of his pre-Classics form with third place on the uphill finish on stage 3 of the Tour of Oman, on a day when crosswinds gave the peloton a true workout.
The Belgian ultimately had to bow to Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), who surged clear at the top of the Qurayyat climb – 2.8km at 6.5 per cent – to win his second consecutive stage and move into the overall lead. A couple of seconds later, Van Avermaet, who will line up at the ‘opening weekend’ – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne – in Belgium in early March, was pipped to the line by Jesús Herrada (Cofidis).
However he was far from disappointed.
"I’m super happy for myself that I’m in good form. I couldn’t win but on this finish, when you see how Lutsenko is riding at the moment, that’s a good third place," Van Avermaet said after a warm-down loop beyond the finish line.
Solid team support
Aside from his individual form, Van Avermaet took heart from the performances of his teammates. He has a new-look entourage in the orange of CCC Team, many of the 2018 BMC Racing roster having left over the winter. He has used his opening races here and in Valencia to gel with his new group for the Classics.
"In the echelons there we had four in the first group, and I think this is just an indication that everyone is in good form and think that’s the most important thing for me."