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"I was very scared. You don't have too many possibilities to win the race in this way, especially if you are not explosive and don't have the sprint like Philippe."

Photo: ©Tim De Waele/TDW Sport






15.04.2015 @ 19:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ben Hermans soloed to his first victory for the BMC Racing Team Wednesday at De Brabantse Pijl as teammate and defending champion Philippe Gilbert finished third.

Hermans attacked fellow breakaway companion David Tanner (IAM Cycling) with less than four kilometers remaining in the 205.4-km race. With runner-up Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) furiously leading the chase, Hermans still had enough time to thrust both arms in the air to celebrate the team's sixth victory of the season and his first win since 2011.

"I was very scared," Hermans said. "You don't have too many possibilities to win the race in this way, especially if you are not explosive and don't have the sprint like Philippe. I was in a good position there and I had to push all the watts I had. Luckily it was enough."

As Matthews finished runner-up for the second straight year, Gilbert was smiling broadly as he stood on the podium with his teammate after earning his second third-place result of the year.

"I told Ben he deserves this," Gilbert said. "He is always working for the team. When you have someone like this and they win, it is always nice."

Hermans and Tanner had been away since attacking with 33 km to go after the last two riders from the day's breakaway were hauled in. The leading pair's advantage see-sawed: from 20 seconds with 30 km to go, down to 14 seconds with 20 km to go and back up to 18 seconds with 10 km to go. It peaked at 33 seconds with 5 km left.

"I think the race was pretty hard in the beginning, but I was going good in the wheels and saving energy," Hermans said. "I have done this race several times and suffered more in the beginning, so I knew I was good. I also told Philippe that if I have to go in a counter attack, you need to tell me - or if I have to make the race hard. Luckily, it turned out good. Everything was in the right place for me to win the race.


“My legs hurt pretty bad and for 95 procent I was sure I was gonna get caught. I wasn’t able to enjoy until the last 200 meter. When I started the last climb I thought I could maybe make it till the end, but my legs were empty. I’m really happy I could make it.


“I did not expecte to win here today, but I knew I had good legs. I felt good at training and the weather is good. Everything falls into place right now. So I expected to be good, but mostly a lot of guys feel good. It’s not so easy to win a race.


“I had to wait long. In a lot of races I had the same legs as today, but I couldn’t show them. For someone like me the puzzle has to be complete. I’m not explosive at the finish. I can attack, but often there is a more explosive rider in the breakaway.


“I asked Philippe if it was ok to attack and make the race hard. He said to wait, but when five riders attacked I reacted. So the team was safe in the bunch. Philippe thought the finale still had to begin, but actually it started already. I also didn’t notice we were already in the last 50k. It was a hard and fast race. At a certain moment I thought: if I attack now, there’s only 10k left.


“Tanner did what he could, but when he led the breakaway the pace went down; I don’t think he really believed in it, although I tried to motivate him. But three or four times he said to me he was empty.


“Normally I’ll do Amstel Gold Race, Waalse Pijl and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. For Philippe Gilbert because those races are bigger than today. They are longer and the startlist is more impressive. I think Philippe is ready. And we also have Sanchez and Van Avermaet. I don’t think the team will add a fourth leader.”

Hermans' victory was his first since joining the BMC Racing Team last year and the third of his professional career. It is his first win since capturing Trofeo Inca in February of 2011, with his other victory coming in a stage of the Tour of Belgium in 2010.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said he was pleased to see a well-executed plan come together as a result of solid teamwork. Joining Gilbert and Hermans on the squad were Damiano Caruso, Silvan Dillier, Campbell Flakemore, Amaël Moinard, Manuel Senni and Dylan Teuns.

"It is a little bit like last year - settling into the second part of the classics with a good victory," Sciandri said. "And we had good teamwork. It was something we saw in a great way today. Having Philippe behind really helped Ben to be able to stay there. The plan was to make it hard. I had Damiano and Ben on the last lap-and-a-half or two laps really open the race up because for us, the harder the race, the better. It worked out well."



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