Ben Hermans is familiar with the climb to Powder Mountain, having finished second on the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah stage that finished there in 2014. The Israel Cycling Academy leader went one better on Wednesday, finishing 20 seconds ahead of prologue winner James Piccoli (Elevate-KHS) on a stage that went 3km further and 300 metres higher than the 2014 route.
Hermans seized the race lead from EF Education First’s Lawson Craddock for his troubles, and now leads Piccoli by 26 seconds overall, with Trek-Segafredo’s Niklas Eg in third at 52 seconds.
“I knew I had to be in really good shape for this climb, because you can make a lot of time or lose a lot of time here,” the 33-year-old Belgian said in the post-stage press conference. “I hoped for the best legs. I had a really good feeling on the climb, and so I’m happy I could take the win.”
Hermans paced his effort well, riding his own tempo until it was time to attack, leaving Piccoli and Stetina behind as he climbed toward the win.
“Peter Stetina attacked quite hard, and I knew I just had to take it at my tempo and look at the other guys,” he said. “I took my tempo until 4km to go. It was a little early to attack, but still I took my chance and I could directly take 20 seconds. From there, I knew the chance was big that I could win the stage, but it was still hard to get to the finish.”
Hermans said he really suffered over the added final 3km.
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