What a difference a year can make, especially when you’re barely out of your teens. Brandon McNulty remembers getting spat out of the peloton early in the 2018 Tour of Oman and then abandoning the race entirely on Green Mountain. Twelve months on, the former junior time trial world champion rode along Muscat’s Mattrah Corniche on Thursday to sign and seal a top-10 overall finish.
McNulty delayed a move to the WorldTour this year in order to continue his development with Rally UHC, who made the step up to Pro Continental level last year, and he described the improvement he and his team have made over the past 12 months as “huge”.
The American, tipped as a future Grand Tour contender, has finished up towards the front on every stage but the big test was always going to be Green Mountain on the penultimate stage on Wednesday. With the field scattered around the mountain in ones and twos, he was the 14th rider across the line, vaulting him into ninth overall.
“It was almost so hard it didn’t matter, it was like who could suffer the most. There weren’t a whole lot of tactics aside from not blowing up. It was rough,” said McNulty, slumped on the tarmac beyond the finish line, recovering from the effort.
The aim was not to blow up but it would have been easy to, as the peloton immediately exploded on the double-digit gradients of the 5.7km climb. McNulty, however, held his nerve, stuck to his guns, and made his way up in the wheel of teammate Rob Britton without going too far into the red.
“As soon as we hit the climb, people were doing these 700-watt surges. I was on Rob’s wheel doing like crazy power, going backward. In the first 500 meters of the climb, we were probably 40 seconds back,” he said.
“We rode it the best we could. We rode it like a time trial, which is what I’m good at. We just rode where I was comfortable riding for 20 minutes. So we kind of just fell back, and we weren’t even in the mix until it completely blew, which I think was the right thing to do, because a lot of the guys who made that surge were behind me pretty fast. Obviously, no one was going to sustain that. Tens of guys were crawling back and then I don’t know how many guys were in front of me but nowhere near as many as at the start.”
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