Tour of Oman, Stage 4: Van Garderen Runner-Up20. February 2015 — Road Team
BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen climbed his way into second overall Friday at the Tour of Oman with a runner-up finish to Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) on the ascent of Green Mountain. (©Tim De Waele/TDWsport)
When van Garderen attacked in the final two kilometers, only Valls could follow. But Valls accelerated away from van Garderen with 300 meters to go to win by five seconds and earn a 10-second time bonus. Van Garderen earned a six-second bonus and stands nine seconds off the lead with two days to go.
"I was hoping for the victory. I was feeling good all day," van Garderen said. "The team rode superb on the last climb. When I attacked, I dropped (Alejandro) Valverde and (Rafal) Majka got dropped off my wheel. So I was thinking, 'all right, smooth sailing, those were the two guys I was worried about.' But Valls definitely got the better of me in the final."
For the second straight day, strong winds and warm temperatures slowed the peloton in the 189-kilometer race. Two breakaway riders – Stijn Vandenberghe (Etixx-Quick Step) and Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) – took advantage of the situation and built a 15-minute lead. The pair was only reeled in with less than 10 km to go as the BMC Racing Team headed up the chase with Dylan Teuns.
"We took the responsibility for the chase with Teuns, along with Movistar and Trek," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said. "It was a good job by the young guys. Then, the plan was to start the climb and make a good tempo for Tejay. We know he does not like the accelerations."
The BMC Racing Team assembled a formidable line-up to lead onto the lower slopes of the 5.7-kilometer climb up Green Mountain that averages 10.5 percent. Past Swiss national road champion Michael Schär initially set the pace, followed by two riders who were in the top 10 – Greg Van Avermaet, sitting fourth, and Damiano Caruso, in sixth – and finally Ben Hermans, who chased down a pair of attacks by Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team)
"Tejay asked me to go as hard as I could to put all the guys on the limit and then he could attack," Hermans said. "I pulled until 1.5 kilometers to go, so it was still quite long for Tejay. But I didn't have more in the tank. I didn't have the legs of two days ago because of the heat and it was a stage of more than six hours. So I think everybody was quite tired."
Van Garderen's first attack gapped Valverde and Majka. A second acceleration dropped everyone but Valls.
"I was doing all the attacks to get rid of the big names," van Garderen said. "With him (Valls) being a dark horse, he was able to catch a free ride and sit on my wheel. He attacked, then I was on him and I countered. He countered and had that last little bit in the end."
Valverde (Movistar Team) finished third and is 19 seconds off the lead while Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) is fourth, at 32 seconds. No other riders are within a minute of the lead.
Saturday's stage includes four climbs in the final 60 kilometers, making it another pivotal stage, van Garderen said.
"Anything is possible," he said. "It is a hard stage tomorrow and who knows if he (Valls) is going to have the team to control. We will be motivated to attack him."
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