Hermans seals Tour of Oman honours

MUSCAT: Ben Hermans (BMC) finished safely in the peloton to seal the overall title of 2017 Tour of Oman as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) claimed a third stage win, winning the sprint on the Muttrah Sea Road on the final day. Kristoff outsprinted Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Sacha Modolo (UAE Abu Dhabi) at the end of the short final stage, which culminated with laps of a flat finishing circuit. The Norwegian opened and ended the stage race with sprint wins, with one in the middle (stage 4) as well, taking his tally for the season to four.
“Today was one of the windiest days in a long time in Oman and we knew it would be hard to control the race. We were lucky however as also the BMC Team tried to control the race for the GC leader Hermans,” Kristoff told cyclingnews.com. “With 150 metres to go I was second and there was a really strong headwind. The last 150 metres felt like 300 metres but in the end I managed to win and I am really happy to win my third stage.”
Hermans took the race lead on the second stage, winning the uphill finish just ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi), and took a stranglehold on the title by winning Saturday’s Queen Stage Saturday, finishing first atop the Green Mountain to give himself an unsurmountable 22-second buffer over Costa.
932467Despite being caught up in an early crash, Hermans, who lost the 2015 Arctic Race of Norway on the final day due to a mechanical, finished safely in the bunch to seal the red jersey, with Costa finishing second overall and Fabio Aru (Astana) completing the podium.
“I’m really happy that I could take two stage and the GC. It’s more than I could have dreamed of,” said Hermans. “It was the perfect week for me, perfect start to the season. I always like to start the season in good shape and then normally it continues for the rest of the year.”
How it unfolded
A very early three-man break got away: Iljo Keisse (Quick-Step Floors), Aime De Gendt (Sport Vlaanderen) and Benjamin Geraud (Delko Marseille Provence). The wind ruled the day, but the trio was able to get a gap of nearly three minutes. That was as high as it got, with both BMC and Aqua Blue working to pull them back. There was a scare for BMC at the foot of the first climb, the Al Hamriyah, as Hermans hit the deck. He was not injured and was quickly back in the thick of things.
On the climb, Geraud dropped out of the lead group, and joined up with Mark Christian (Aqua Blue) and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen), who had jumped from the peloton. Christian gave up his attempt and fell back into the field.
Keisse and De Gendt held on to a 1:20 lead as they started the first lap of the closing circuit course with some 25 km to go. The gap had dropped to only 45 seconds with 10km left, and Katusha leading the chase. Soon Keisse was alone in front, hanging on to a narrow lead.
The Belgian was caught within the last 5km, and immediately Romain Bardet (AG2R) attacked, with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) also giving it a try.
It still came down to the expected mass sprint, though, and once again, Alexander Kristoff claimed the spoils.