Race Report: Belgian Ben Hermans of Israel Cycling Academy powered away from an elite group of riders to win Stage 2 presented by Monster Hydro on Wednesday at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Hermans, who finished second overall in 2018, soloed to victory on the final epic climb to Powder Mountain Resort in a time of 3 hours and 37 minutes. The stage win put him in the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader’s jersey.
“I knew I had to be in really good shape on this climb. You can make a lot of time, you can lose a lot of time, on this climb. I hoped for the best legs. I had really good feeling on the climb, so I’m happy I was able to take the win,” said Hermans, who finished second on the Powder Mountain stage in 2014.
Hermans dropped James Piccoli (CAN) of Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling with four kilometers to go from the 8,900-foot summit after the pair had caught Peter Stetina (USA) of Trek-Segafredo. Piccoli, winner of the Prologue presented by Zions Bank, crossed the line 20 seconds behind Hermans. Trek-Segafredo’s Niklas Eg (DEN) finished third on the stage, 35 seconds down.
“Peter Stetina attacked quite hard and I knew that I had to set my tempo and look at the other guys. I kept my tempo until five or four K (kilometers) to go. From there, I knew that the chance was big that I could win the stage. It was still hard to get to the finish,” Hermans added.
Stetina attacked the dwindling peloton on the bottom slope of the steepest roads in Utah to take a 20-second lead on Eg, Piccoli, Hermans and 2015 Tour of Utah overall winner Joe Dombrowski (USA) of EF Education First. Hermans and Piccoli took up the chase to catch and drop the lone American off the front on a bid for glory. Stetina held on for fourth place.
“Today we had an extra bit of motivation,” said Piccoli who was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. “I always want to do the best I can here. I think there is lots to play for, and the team is going to do everything we can to continue fighting and to race strong.”
The third day of racing at the Tour of Utah included 7,316 feet of climbing and shook up the overall standings. Hermans surged from 10th place to first place with a 26-second lead on Piccoli. Eg moved to third place, 52 seconds down with his teammate Stetina in fourth place. Dombrowski, who finished fifth on the stage, is now in fifth place overall. Rally Cycling’s Kyle Murphy (USA) dropped two spots to sixth place, while his teammate Rob Britton (CAN) moved up four spots to eighth place. João Almeida (POR) is now seventh overall and remains in the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.
Eg identified Stage 5 and Stage 6 as upcoming opportunities for his team. “I think tomorrow is also going to be a really hard day. I think it will be hard racing throughout the week every day.”
Lawson Craddock (USA) of EF Education First, who wore the leader’s jersey after Stage 1, dropped to ninth on G.C., 2 minutes and 56 seconds off the lead. Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Worthy Pro Cycling dropped from second place to 23rd overall.
The 84.4-mile (135.8-kilometer) stage began in Brigham City. After 25 miles of dynamic racing, including the first intermediate sprint in Brigham City, the six-rider breakaway was established. The escapees gained over three minutes on the peloton before the final riders were re-absorbed at the bottom of the brutal 8.6-mile climb with gradients rising to16 percent to the summit of Powder Mountain.
In addition to the leader’s jersey, Hermans also claimed the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey. Stage 1 winner Umberto Marengo (ITA) of Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM retained the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey. Dombrowski was voted the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite jersey in the Best Climber category.
Stage 3 presented by BYUtv on Thursday, Aug. 15 begins for a fourth time at Antelope Island State Park. Most of the 5,895 feet of climbing on this 85.9-mile (138.3-kilometer) stage will be collected when the route skirts the Wasatch Mountains south of Layton, with three Category 3 climbs in the final 29 miles. Following a punchy KOM up the Bountiful Bench, the route follows a new southbound stretch of Bountiful Boulevard for finishing circuits in first-time host city North Salt Lake.
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is free to all spectators, making professional cycling one of the most unique sports in the world today. The Tour of Utah is a internationally sanctioned as a 2.HC-rated stage race on the UCI America Tour, and is part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour. More information about the Tour of Utah can be found by visiting www.tourofutah.com, as well as social channels Facebook (tourofutah), Twitter (tourofutah), Instagram (thetourofutah) and YouTube (tourofutah).
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Stage 2 p/b Monster Hydro Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy in 3:37:44
2. James Piccoli (Can) Elevate-KHS at 0:20
3. Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 0:35
4. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 0:58
5. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First at 1:26
6. Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally UHC at 1:31
7. Robert Britton (Can) Rally UHC at 1:36
8. João Almeida (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon at 1:54
9. Matteo Badilatti (Sui) Israel Cycling Academy at 2:37
10. Scott Bowden (Aus) Team Bridgelane at 2:52.
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Overall After Stage 2 p/b Monster Hydro:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy in 7:10:07
2. James Piccoli (Can) Elevate-KHS at 0:26
3. Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 0:52
4. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 1:10
5. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) EF Edcuation First at 1:33
6. Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally UHC at 1:35
7. João Almeida (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon at 1:46
8. Robert Britton (Can) Rally UHC at 1:47
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Egucation First at 2:56
10. Matteo Badilatti (Sui) Israel Cycling Academy at 2:58.
# Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Ben Hermans (BEL) of Israel Cycling Academy
# Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader -Umberto Marengo (ITA), Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
# Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain- Ben Hermans (BEL) of Israel Cycling Academy
# WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – João Almeida (POR) of Hagens Berman Axeon
# Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider -James Piccoli (CAN), Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling
# America First Credit Union Fan Favorite -Joe Dombrowski (USA), EF Education First