Team Sky gave it their utmost to help leader Edvald Boasson Hagen add a third stage win in the Tour of Oman to the two he won last year, with Russell Downing working hard for his Norwegian team-mate in the front group.
“I was going fine, I was in a little group off the back at the top [of the stage’s main climb] and then me and Matt [Hayman – Sky] got on the front group again and gave it some along with the other guys,” Downing told Cycling Weekly.
“It was a tough climb, pretty hot, pretty sweaty and where you were was where you were. Pretty grippy.”
“There were a couple of guys away afterwards, we got them though, just tapped through all the way and kept up the tempo. It was a bit windy but ok.”
“I pulled off with about two ks to go, then it sort of regrouped and I made an effort to get back to our Eddy but I was all gone.”
Downing says he’s recovered from the Tour of Qatar well, after two days of resting up before the race started on Tuesday.
“Honestly after Qatar I don’t know if I was nailed or if my brain just switched off but I slept for two days, I nearly missed training I was so tired.”
“The team doctor came knocking on my door to wake me up and I didn’t know what day it was.”
Boasson Hagen finally placed third, behind Australia’s Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) and Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek), but at least he has claimed the points jersey.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) said not chasing by his team-mates in the main group behind had helped give Goss his chance in the final sprint.
“I was in the second group, got over the climb with [Tom] Boonen (Quick Step) and [Thor] Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) which was fine for me,” Cavendish told Cycling Weekly.
“We didn’t want to drive too hard because we knew we had Gossy in the front group, and it was great he got the win.”
Tour of Oman 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index