Ben Hermans dropped the hammer on his rivals at the Tour of Utah—again.
One day after he climbed into the race leader’s jersey and took the stage win at Powder Mountain, Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) attacked to win Thursday’s stage 3 into North Salt Lake City.
Hermans surfed the wheels of his closest rivals on the hilly neighborhood circuit, allowing Canadian James Piccoli (Elevate-KHS) and others to drag back remnants of a dangerous breakaway. Then, with less than two kilometers remaining, Hermans bolted from the group, caught a fading Lawson Craddock (EF Education First), and powered across the line.
“Our team was under pressure but we never lost control of the race,” Hermans said after the stage. “The team was pretty strong and I didn’t have to do much until the last kilometer until the last climb—I just had to follow—and the last kilometer I put in a good attack for 30 seconds. This was enough for the stage win.”
Kyle Murphy was second place, 7 seconds in arrears.
Hermans’s winning move came in the dramatic closing circuits of the 138-kilometer stage from Antelope Island to the northern suburb of Utah’s capital city. The finishing circuit included a long, grinding climb, followed by a fast descent.
The peloton entered the circuits trailing a breakaway containing Alex Howes (EF Education First), Lorenzo Fortunato (Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KTM), Travis McCabe (Worthy Pro Cycling), and Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini).
The peloton eventually shrunk the gap to the group, and on the final lap it was Craddock who attacked up to the breakaway alongside Murphy. Trek-Segafredo powered the peloton at the front, and on the final ascent to the finish it was Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) who led the charge.
Craddock and Murphy dropped their breakaway companions and rode clear toward the finish, while behind it was Piccoli who upped the tempo and closed the gap to the two leaders, with Hermans on his wheel.
“Piccoli went really hard up the climb, he tried to do all he had in the first part of the climb and he couldn’t drop me so he went out on the second part,” Hermans said. “I saw the guys on the front very close to us, and I just gave it a go to drop Piccoli and pass everyone.”
Then, with 2km remaining, the Belgian dropped Piccoli, caught and passed Craddock, and then powered his way to the finish line.
Stay tuned to velonews.com for a full stage report.