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Tour of Oman Stage 2 Report, Results, Photos – Hermans Wins, Cataford 47th

release by the Tour of Oman

February 15, 2017 (Al Bustan, Oman) – Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman once again proved how beautiful and demanding the roads and hills of the Middle-East nation can be. After the battle between the sprinters yesterday, it was time for the GC contenders to show how good their legs were. Part of the leading group on the final climb of the day, Ben Hermans awaited the ultimate moments to power to his first ever stage success in Oman beating Rui Costa and Jakob Fuglsang to the line. The Belgian captures the overall lead and the Red Jersey going with it.

Ben Hermans  ©  Cor Vos
Canadian Alex Cataford of United Healthcar Pro Cycling finished 47th on the stage, 1:43 back. Cataford now sits 44th on the General Classification, 1:53 behind Hermans. Fellow Canuck Hugo Houle of AG2R La Mondiale crossed the line in 84th, 4:23 back. He now sits in 96th on GC, 8:36 down.

After a first flat stage on the Tour of Oman, day 2 would be far more demanding for the 142 remaining riders of the race. In slightly cloudy conditions, making the temperature drop by few degrees, the pack took off from the Nakhal Castle for a 142-km race all the way to the west of Muscate, via several extremely steep climbs. It would be a day for GC contenders.

After a very fast start (50.8kms covered during the first hour) and despite many breakaway attempts, it wasn’t until km 45 that two men managed to take off: Christian (ABS) and Van Hecke (SVB), winner of the Most Aggressive Riders’ jersey back in 2014. Both escapees saw their advantage grow rapidly: from 5’50 at km 50 to 7’55” at the first intermediate sprint claimed by Van Hecke ahead of Christian and Red Jersey Kristoff (KAT), leading the pack.

 ©  Cor Vos
But under the control of teams AG2R-La Mondiale, UAE Abu Dhabi and Astana, the gap started dropping dramatically. At the top of the second climb of the day (km 96.5), Christian led the way ahead of Van Hecke while the pack remained 4’10” adrift. On the steep climb up Al Hamriyah (km 123), Christian was the only man left in the lead. He managed to reach the top with a 10” advantage before being eventually caught. On the final part of the course, on hilly and sinuous roads, Daniel Eaton (UHC) powered away taking with him Lasse-Norman Hansen (ABS). Both men could enjoy a 30” lead with 10kms to go. At the second bonus sprint claimed by Eaton ahead of Hansen, the pack had moved closer, only 20” adrift. The front riders were finally caught before the final climb up Al Jissah.

Around 40 riders remained in the lead while the likes of race leader Alexander Kristoff, Tom Boonen and Bob Jungels (both QST) were dropped. Olympic silver medallist in Rio, Jakob Fuglsang (AST), made it first to the top ahead of De la Cruz (QST) and Rui Costa (UAD), as the favourites’ group remained bunched. Taking off in the last 500m, Kudus (DDD) thought his effort would pay off but he was eventually caught in the last few metres. Perfectly timing his effort, Ben Hermans (BMC) indeed captured the win beating Rui Costa (UAE) and Jakob Fuglsang (AST) to the line. The Belgian, already a winner of the Fleche Brabançonne as well as stages on the Arctic Race of Norway and the Tour de Yorkshire claims his first success in Oman.

Ben Hermans  ©  Cor Vos
Hermans, thanks to his performance, takes command of the general classification, enjoying a 4” lead over Rui Costa and 6” over Fuglsang while pre-race favourites Fabio Aru (AST), 6th, and Romain Bardet (ALM), 10th, are 17” adrift. Claiming precious points at both intermediate sprints, Kristoff keeps control of the Green Jersey (points classification). Fourth of the stage, Kudus can be satisfied with the White Jersey for the best young rider. One of the men of the day, Mark Christian captures the Most Aggressive riders’ jersey.

Results (brief)

1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 3:20:49
2. Rui Costa (Por) Team UAE Abu Dhabi
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data   0:04
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data   0:07
6. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
8. Janier Acevedo (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
9. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

47. Alexander Cataford (Can) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 1:43  
84. Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 4:23  

GC after Stage 2
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 7:07:08
2. Rui Costa (Por) Team UAE Abu Dhabi   0:04
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team   0:06
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data  0:14
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data  0:17
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7. Janier Acevedo (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
8. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
9. Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

44. Alexander Cataford (Can) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 1:53  
96. Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 8:36  





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