Q&A With Cam Meyer on Tour of Oman Stage Three

Thu 20 Feb 2014

Leigh Howard slipped back to second overall after spending the third stage of the Tour of Oman in the red leader’s jersey. André Greipel took his second stage win of the six day tour, snagging enough bonus seconds to regain the top spot on the general classification. Howard slotted into 50th in on the stage, missing out on time bonuses that would have allowed him to challenge Greipel for the red jersey. The Victorian remains in the lead of the best young rider competition.

Howard was one of five ORICA-GreenEDGE riders to finish in the 76-strong front group. More than half the field was distanced over the rollers that featured in the stage three finale. Cam Meyer, Ivan Santaromita, Jens Keukeleire and Daryl Impey finished on bunch time alongside Howard.

A small breakaway of four riders dominated the early action over flat roads. With the overall leader amongst their ranks, ORICA-GreenEDGE assumed responsibility for the chase, putting Jens Mouris and Michael Hepburn on the front. The duo kept a close check on the escape group, reeling them back to the bunch with assistance from teams interested in the stage win.

Tour of Oman defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) animated the finish with a small dig on the day’s final climb. Froome’ s acceleration attracted the attention of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step). Briefly the dangerous quartet gained a slight gap over the peloton. A strong headwind made it impossible for them to get away, and they were caught in the final kilometre.

Lotto Belisol put Greipel in the perfect position to open his sprint, and the German did not disappoint. He handily took the victory by several bike lengths ahead of Sagan and Nacer Bouhanni ( Impey was best finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 13th place. 

Back at the hotel, Meyer checked in about the stage. Our questions and his answers are below.  

Q: Was the team plan any different with Leigh in the red jersey?

No, not so much. We had to take a bit of responsibility in chasing the breakaway for the day. We had a few cards to play in the finish. Depending on hard it went on the final climb, we had guys like Daryl Impey, Santaromita, Jens Keukeleire and myself and depending on how well Leigh Howard got over the climb, then we’d decide on what our tactic was in the final for the sprint.

Q: The early break went – and today the team chased. How did the chase unfold from a team perspective?

We let the breakaway go away, but we only gave them three minutes. It was kept close. We used Jens Mouris and Michael Hepburn to control, and we had some help straightaway from Cannondale. Astana helped as well, and BMC put on rider on the front. There was a strong contingent working together to control the breakaway.

Going further into the race, we then had the other six of us all in the final – and it was a question of who got over that last climb in the best situation to do something in the finish. It didn’t really work for us in the last kilometre. We got a little bit lost. Daryl Impey tried to do something alone, but nothing really materialised. It was probably only in the finish where we didn’t execute well. It was good that we had five of us in the front despite not having an impact in the sprint.

Q: Can you go into a bit more detail on the rollers at the finish?

Today was the first stage where it wasn’t going to be a flat sprint. We had two climbs in the last 25 kilometres – the first was at 25 kilomestre to go, and that’s where the pace really heated up. It didn’t split but it got quite hard, and it was hard all the way through to the finish.

The top of the final climb was only five kilometres from the finish, and it was around two kilometres in length. It was done very fast. There were attacks from some of the bigger GC guys like Froome and Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), but there was a headwind, so they didn’t really get anywhere. That being said – it was the first day where we saw different faces than the sprinters and their trains at the front.

Some of the sprinters got back on over the top, and Greipel ended up winning the stage. So in that sense, it wasn’t really a day for the overall, but it was the first time we tested ourselves on the climbs. Tomorrow is where the GC guys will really start to play their cards and go after the stage win.

Q: You’re one of our options for a strong result overall. How has it been for you during these opening stages while the team’s chasing stage wins with Leigh?

We have a good team in terms of our dual objectives and splitting roles. We had four guys that came from Qatar, and they’re here more for the flat, sprint stages. We also had four new guys come in – myself, Albasini, Impey and Santaromita. We’re here more for the hilly stages and the overall. It’s been good that guys like myself and Santaromita can save a bit of energy while guys like Mouris and Hepburn can help in the sprints.

Q: Are you looking forward to testing yourself tomorrow?

Yeah – I am. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I had a later start to the season. The Sun Tour went well. Simon Clarke took on a leadership role, so I had a lot of work to do but wasn’t really in a position to test myself personally. Tomorrow will be the first time we see some of the big general classification guys for the bigger races later in the season go head-to-head, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.