Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) won stage two of the Tour of Oman 2017, surviving four climbs to take the final sprint. He pulled away in the final metres to take a convincing win over Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). “I think I can be happy with my performance. Normally I’m not an explosive kind of guy but this was something in between and it worked out well,” Fuglsang said after the stage. “From 500 metres you think, ‘Bah, the finish is just there,’ but it’s not like this. I know this climb from other years, where I attacked on the first part and you pay for that on the second small part here to the finish.”
“Even though it’s not so long, it’s super hard. I tried to do my best but it also throws in a bit of tactics when it’s such a big, open road and there’s wind,” he told Cyclingnews. “We needed to play it smart. I think Hermans, he came from behind in a good moment. Maybe he played it smarter or maybe he was stronger, but he showed good form already in Valencia, and he is for sure one of the guys to beat together with Rui Costa and a few others”. Climbing entered the picture in stage 2, with four classified climbs, including the stiff Al Jissah shortly before the finish.
It took a while for the day’s break group to form and several large groups tried to get away, but were brought back.
The field was flying along, at more than 50 km/h for the first hour but, at last after some 45 km, Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport) and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) finally got away. The field was happy to let them go and the gap rapidly hovered near the eight-minute mark.
The last three climbs came in the final third of the stage, and as the first of those appeared, the gap started coming down. With 40 km and two more climbs, it was down to three minutes and decreasing with regularity.
Van Hecke was caught with just over 20 km to go, and Christian fought on alone with a handful of seconds before succumbing to the peloton.
Best young rider Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue) attacked on the lead-up the final ranked climb, soon to be joined by Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare). They carried 35 seconds up the fearsome Al Jissah, but were gathered in with only two kilometres to go.
A reduced and splintered peloton approached the finish line. Hermans moved away to take an easy win, with Costa and Fuglsang, his nearest chasers, fighting it out for the remaining podium positions, Cyclingnews reported. — ONA