Tour of Utah: Hermans hoping to unseat Kuss on Empire Pass

Up until Saturday’s queen stage to Snowbird Resort, Israel Cycling Academy’s Ben Hermans was having a fairly quiet Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. He finished fifth on the third stage that included the climb over Mount Nebo, where LottoNL-Jumbo’s Sepp Kuss soloed to the stage win and into the yellow jersey, and sat just outside the top 10 in 11th going into the Snowbird stage, 42 seconds behind the young American.  

Hermans was confident that he could climb up the general classification, and climb he did, finishing second to Kuss at Snowbird and reaching the second spot in the general classification, passing previous runner-up Nielson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo) and BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen, who started the day in third. Hermans also climbed past a trio of EF Education First-Drapac riders in the GC, as well as Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing).  

Hermans was part of the general classification group that rode to the bottom of the final climb on Saturday with only non-GC threat Kilian Frankiny (BMC Racing) up the road. The EF Education First-Drapac trio of Mike Woods, Joe Dombrowski and Hugh Carthy launched a series of attacks, but Kuss fought them all off, then set off on a solo move of his own.  

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Once Kuss opened up a gap, Hermans attacked from the group and set off in pursuit.

“When I went behind the leader, I just wanted to be in the front of the race,” Hermans said. “But I saw quickly that some of my rivals were already in trouble, and I didn’t feel the legs yet. But that feeling only lasted for five to 10 minutes.”    

Hermans started to close the gap to Kuss, eventually pulling within 10 metres of the young American before Kuss surged again, ending Hermans’ hopes of catching him and battling for the stage win. From there, it was matter of preserving his second-place finish on the long climb to Snowbird.  

Focused on Empire Pass

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