The team arrived at the start of the queen stage of the Tour of Oman with one goal – get Brandon McNulty and Rob Britton to the bottom of Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) safely and in a good position to contest the overall.
With Britton to help pilot McNulty on the lower slopes, the young rider from Phoenix, Arizona finished 14th, 51 seconds down on triple-stage winner Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team). The result moved the 20-year-old into ninth on General Classification and second in the Youth Competition.
“The plan was to get Rob and I to the base of the climb as fresh as possible,” said McNulty. “With it being so steep and the weather being quite hot, it was better for us not to follow the initial surges and keep a steady pace. We knew the majority of the guys following the surges would blow up. The plan worked super well and I was able to gradually build speed instead of fading.”
Despite his young age, McNulty is comfortable being a protected rider and with the pressure that goes along with it. The sacrifices his teammates make on his behalf do not go unnoticed.
“It’s awesome to have the guys look after me,” said McNulty. “Definitely makes me go just a bit harder up the climb knowing how much the team has helped me throughout the week. At the start of the day we’re a team and willing to sell out for each other.”
Team Director Eric Wohlberg knows just how important it is to take care of the team’s top GC talent in McNulty and enlisted the entire roster to help.
“The whole week has been focused on Brandon having the best chance on Green Mountain,” said Wohlberg. “Everyone has committed to help our GC goal, whether that be bottle/ice sock duty, sidewind protection or chasing. We’ve also leaned on Rob Britton’s GC experience to set up for the final climbs and that has been vital.”
With the race for the overall classification mostly set, the team shifts focus to opportunities up the road during the race’s finale, a flat 135 km stage from Al Mouj Muscat to Matrah Corniche.
“We’d like to be active and see what we can shake out from a breakaway,” said Wohlberg. “Our two big rouleurs are Evan Huffman and Adam de Vos and hopefully the peloton will give them some leash on the stage. The team has been very good on drawing from John Murphy’s experience in the sprints and if the race comes together, we’ll look to set up John and Ty Magner.”
Stage five results
1 LUTSENKO Alexey Astana Pro Team 3:44:03
2 GRELLIER Fabien Direct Energie 0:07
3 POZZOVIVO Domenico Bahrain Merida 0:11
4 COSTA Rui UAE-Team Emirates 0:19
5 GESBERT Élie Team Arkéa Samsic ,,
6 HERRADA Jesús Cofidis, Solutions Crédits ,,
7 POLANC Jan UAE-Team Emirates 0:23
8 DOUBEY Fabien Wanty – Groupe Gobert 0:30
9 FRANK Mathias AG2R La Mondiale 0:39
10 FABBRO Matteo Team Katusha – Alpecin 0:44
11 WEENING Pieter Roompot – Charles ,,
12 ATAPUMA Darwin Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 0:46
13 LIETAER Eliot Wallonie-Bruxelles ,,
14 MCNULTY Brandon Rally UHC Cycling 0:51
15 CRAS Steff Team Katusha – Alpecin 1:03
1 LUTSENKO Alexey Astana Pro Team 18:38:39
2 POZZOVIVO Domenico Bahrain Merida 0:44
3 HERRADA Jesús Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 0:47
4 COSTA Rui UAE-Team Emirates 0:53
5 GESBERT Élie Team Arkéa Samsic 1:03
6 POLANC Jan UAE-Team Emirates 1:14
7 LIETAER Eliot Wallonie-Bruxelles 1:25
8 DOUBEY Fabien Wanty – Groupe Gobert 1:31
9 MCNULTY Brandon Rally UHC Cycling 1:43
10 PACHER Quentin Vital Concept – B&B Hotels 1:51
Youth Classification standings
1 GESBERT Élie Team Arkéa Samsic 18:39:42
2 MCNULTY Brandon Rally UHC Cycling 0:40
3 CRAS Steff Team Katusha – Alpecin 0:50