Gibbons (Dimension Data) finished third behind defending race champion Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) on stage two of the Tour of Oman overnight in a show of speed and most notably strength over undulating terrain.
“I actually put on weight and I did less training,” he said of his pre-season training.
“Normally I try as a baseline to do 110-120 hours during December, this year I did 90 hours so quite a lot less. I did a lot of gym work, a lot of focus work and put on a bit of weight so when I went to Australia, I was actually quite nervous. I thought maybe I’m going to feel it, but I’ve just got stronger and stronger. I’m enjoying the form and hopefully it lasts a bit longer.”
Gibbons entered the Tour of Oman on the back of an underrated campaign in Australia. He started the Tour Down Under as a domestique but finished within the top 15 of five out of six stages, placing 11th overall. He then ran fourth at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
The 24-year-old was perhaps equally underrated here in Muscat where pundits tipped his teammate Enrico Gasparotto for line honours on stage two, which Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) claimed on the same uphill drag to Al Bustan last year.
“I’ve always tried to be good at everything but not really focus on anything in particular, jack of all trades but master of none. I thought I’d do more sprint training and the irony is I’m climbing better than ever,” Gibbons continued.
“Going into it I would have said I’m targeting more sprints because I trained more specifically for it, but now the way the form is going, even today, my whole calendar is probably going to change.”
Gibbons currently sits third overall, 12 seconds behind race leader Kristoff ahead of the third stage that features a 2.8km uphill finish that averages 6.5 per cent.
“It was nice to be on the podium for the stage but always disappointing not to get the win, especially when it’s so close,” he said of day two that featured two climbs within the final 25km. “I think the team was really good in that final group over the last climb. With 5km to go we had five of us, so the team is looking good. I think it’s going to be an exciting week.”