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by Mark Zalewski
February 16, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Hermans wins Tour of Oman, stage 2; Valderde wins Ruta Del Sol opener; Gaviria wins first stage of Volta ao Algarve; Riders’ association protests disc brake usage without further safety measures; After a shining Tour performance, Pantano nurturing a big long-term goal; 2017 Paris-Roubaix to feature more cobbles than in 2016; No Cauberg finish for Amstel Gold Race in 2017; 2017 Women’s Tour to finish in London; Inga Thompson returning to cycling to advocate for the women’s peloton; Shane Perkins to race with Russia in bid for Tokyo 2020; Successful surgery for Chris Butler; Abu Dhabi Tour announces provisional start list; ‘One More Brew’ Garburn Winter Cyclocross.
Ben Hermans (BMC) won the first hilly stage of the Tour of Oman to take the overall lead, winning ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team).
“We did as the team asked us,” said Hermans. “We had a plan to attack with Greg Van Avermaet and he saw his moment when we tried to just ride at tempo in the middle of the climb. Then he countered Kudus but Kudus was really explosive and fast, so when I saw Greg came back I tried. It was still 300m to go but I knew I would only have one chance if I made it a very long sprint and not too explosive, and it worked out well.”
It took a while to happen but Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport) and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) eventually broke away and established an advantage of more than seven minutes. AG2R-La Mondiale, UAE Abu Dhabi and Astana all put in efforts to bring the gap down, and the hilly parcours reduced the peloton to around 40 riders for the finale, with sprinters like race leader Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) dropped.
The break was caught over the top of the third climb. Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare) attacked with Lasse-Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport). They built a lead of 30 seconds with 10km to go, but were brought back before the final climb. On the climb Van Avermaet attacked with 1.5km to go, and was passed by Merhawi Kudus (Dimension-Data). Van Avermaet attacked again launching Hermans to the line for the win.
“We are happy and the whole team worked well today,” said sports director Valerio Piva. “We have the jersey so we will defend it. The finish on Green Mountain is also a climb for Ben, but of course we have some of the best climbers in the world here. Stage three is also a good stage for Greg so we have options.”