• BMC's Ben Hermans (C) claimed his biggest career victory at the 2017 Tour of Oman. (Getty)Source: Getty
Ben Hermans on Sunday topped the Tour of Oman general classification to claim his first big career victory after Alexander Kristoff took to the final day honours.
By
Cycling Central

20 Feb 2017 - 8:14 AM  UPDATED 20 Feb 2017 - 8:21 AM

The BMC rider finished 22 seconds ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and 35 in front of Fabio Aru (Astana) despite a scare when he crashed during the final stage.

"I was scared that something like that could happen, especially with the wind as the whole peloton was nervous," Hermans said. "It was very dangerous and then they made a big mess by chasing the breakaway down for the sprints. It was just nervous but this is bike racing so we always have to be concentrating until we cross the finish line."

Hermans has had a great start to 2017 with the Oman win signalling a new level of performance for the 30-year-old Belgian after earlier recording a second place Volta a la Comunitat Valencian.

"I'm really happy that I could take two stage and the GC," he said. "It's more than I could have dreamed of. It was the perfect week for me, a 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.

"I knew from training that I was really good. I was going so hard. I already had this feeling several times but I never won the GC, I won stages or I won classics, but I was never performing so well against the kind of climbers who are here. So in this way, I surprised myself."

Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) took the final day honours in a sprint from Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Sacha Modolo (UAE Abu Dhabi) at the end of the 130.5km stage from The Wave to Muttrah Corniche in the Omani capital of Muscat, it was his third of the six-day tour.

"It was today one of the windiest days in a long time in Oman and we knew it would be hard to control the race," Kristoff said. "We were lucky however as also the BMC Team tried to control the race for the GC leader Hermans.

"At the end, they tried to win with the late attack of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). We did not control the whole race but we did our main work in the final. Luckily I had my teammates to support me in the local laps. Especially Marco Haller did an amazing job in the last two kilometres. He brought me in a good position for the sprint.

"With 150 meters to go I was second and there was a really strong headwind. The last 150 meters felt like 300 meters but in the end, I managed to win and I am really happy to win my third stage in the Tour of Oman 2017."

The stage started with a three rider break which built a lead of almost three minutes but it was doomed to fail with the last remaining rider, Ilo Keisse (Quick-Step Floors), caught with four kilometres remaining.

A small climb on the circuit encouraged Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to challenge the peloton but both were caught with a single kilometre of road left before Kristoff powered to the finish and his seventh career stage win in Oman.

Kristoff's three stage wins earned him the points classification and Merhawi Kudus claimed the best young rider classification in helping his Dimension Data squad take out the team title.