Israel Start-Up Nation’s Ben Hermans took both the victory and the overall lead of Arctic Race of Norway after an impressive show of strength on the uphill finish on stage 3.
Having already have won on the challenging climb to Målselv in 2015, Hermans knew exactly how to approach Saturday’s queen stage and his ISN teammates made sure to put him in the best possible position to repeat the victorious performance from the past.
After catching the early breakaway on the final climb, ISN did an impeccable job to set up Hermans for glory. As agreed upon at the team meeting before the stage, Rick Zabel, Tom Van Asbroeck and Sebastian Berwick all hit the front in the final kilometers before Hermans took over the show and sprinted to victory.
With today’s win, Hermans is also the new leader of the race before tomorrow’s final stage from Gratangen to Harstad. However, with a gap of just four seconds down to second place, nothing is settled yet. It will require another strong performance by the ISN guys to secure the overall win.
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) August 7, 2021
Ben Hermans: “The breakaway was always under control so I had all five guys to help position me in to the final climb. I asked the guys to go full in order to tire out everybody else while I would just keep my own tempo. They did that perfectly. Rick went super-fast and Tom accelerated even more before Sebastian attacked. All the favorites I was a little scared off followed him but I never panicked. Seb really killed them with that move with two kilometers to go.
When I came back to the front I attacked right away. At the end, when I saw that they couldn’t attack me anymore, I knew they were finished and I thought it would be best to go for a long sprint. I was actually surprised that there was still someone, Eiking, who came up on my side but I managed to hold him off to take the win.
It would have been better to win with a bigger margin so the bonus seconds wouldn’t be in play tomorrow. Now, we have to be really attentive but luckily we also have some good sprinters who can go for the bonus seconds. It will definitely be another interesting stage and I hope to have a good day again tomorrow!”
— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com