Hermans finishes top-20 overall in Dauphiné

Israel Start-Up Nation showed strong team spirit on the final stage of Critérium du Dauphiné, which ultimately saw Ben Hermans finishing 19th in the general classification.

Despite its length of 147 km, Sunday’s mountainous stage 9 had no less than six categorized climbs, including the feared Col de Joux Plane, which was crested just 17 km from the finish.

The ISN riders were very eager to make the morning break and they tried several times to get up the road. Early on, Mads Würtz Schmidt managed to get into a strong group but unfortunately, the Dane crashed on a descent and had to abandon the race. Würtz Schmidt suffered a concussion and was taken to hospital for observation and exams. He was later released to go home to rest.

After the crash, a big group of over 20 riders managed to distance the pack, and they quickly opened up a gap of five minutes. However, determined to do well today, ISN went to the front of the peloton to take control. Reto Hollenstein upped the pace significantly and took nearly two minutes of the gap off the break, bringing them within striking distance.

On Col de Joux Plane, Hermans played his card and attacked from the reduced peloton. Unfortunately, the group didn’t give the strong Belgian much of a leash. Ultimately, the early break made it all the way, while Hermans had to settle for 23rd place on the day and 19th overall.

Ben Hermans: “I believe I can be happy with this top-20. I had hoped for a little bit more, especially with the legs I had in the first six days, but during the weekend, I didn’t have the same high power. In any case, I’m happy with the result because if you look at top-20 overall there are only strong riders. Also, the team rode really well all week, always working together, which was great.”

Chris Froome: “For me personally, it was good to get some hard racing like this in the legs. This is exactly what I was missing and exactly what I need to help push me up to the next level. I definitely felt like I was settling into the race as the race went on, and as we got into the higher mountains, I definitely felt better today as well. I’m not up there with the front guys yet but if I look back just a month, to my last race in Romandie, there has definitely been a strong progression.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Top-10 for Hermans on stage 6 of Dauphiné

The Israel Start-Up Nation team leader, Ben Hermans, did well to stay with the top favorites and finish ninth on the uphill finish on stage 6 of Critérium du Dauphiné.

With a challenging second part of the course, including several hard climbs, Friday’s stage was the first of three difficult days in the mountains. Multiple riders wanted to make the early break, which made for a fast start. In fact, it took nearly 45 km of racing before a big group finally managed to get up the road.

Israeli champion Omer Goldstein was quick to join the move, letting his teammates sit back in the peloton concentrating on keeping Hermans in a good position for the climbs.

On the final ascent, the last remaining rider from the early breakaway got caught as the teams of the GC riders upped the pace, setting up their leaders for the uphill sprint. Having done recon of the climb not long ago, Hermans knew exactly what was coming and in the sprint, he put on a strong performance to take ninth place, which also saw him move up to 12th place in the general classification.

Ben Hermans: ”It was a fast day today, but until we hit the first climb, we didn’t suffer too much actually. From that point, the pace was quite hard though. Actually, from the top of Col de Porte, it was all out towards the finish. I’m really happy that I did a recon of this stage earlier. I knew every corner and that really helped me with positioning in the final.”

“Personally, I felt really good until the last four kilometers, when the others started attacking and accelerating but I think everybody was on the limit and when you suffer and see that everybody else is also suffering, it’s not too bad. In any case, I feel comfortable with the feelings I’ve got in my legs and the recovery I do. Every day, I feel that I recover really well so I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Chris Froome: “Today was a much better measure for me. Up until now, it has been a very explosive style of racing but this was a more accurate measure of what I’ve been training for; the longer types of climbs. I still came in a couple of minutes down but I tried to stay there and support Ben for as long as possible. I’m certainly feeling better and better as the race progresses, which is what I was hoping for. If things keep progressing like this, I will be very happy. It has been a tough start to the week but these next few days are certainly more my type of terrain. This is what I have been preparing for.”

“It’s also been fantastic to feel the warm welcome by the fans alongside the road these last six days. Everywhere we go, I hear fans cheering for me and that really motivates me to keep working hard to come back to my former level.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Würtz Schmidt takes fifth place on stage 5 of Dauphiné

Mads Würtz Schmidt did well to sprint to fifth place on the challenging stage 5 of Critérium du Dauphiné. Israel Start-Up Nation’s team leader Ben Hermans also finished in the reduced peloton to keep his 17th place overall.

On paper, Thursday’s stage was another good opportunity for a strong break to make it all the way. Multiple riders tried to get up the road early on and, ultimately, five riders managed to get a gap. However, the peloton never let the group get more than a two-minute advantage and as the pack took on the final steep climb, it all came back together again.

With gradients of nearly 20%, many riders got dropped due to the fast pace at the front, leaving a select group of riders to fight for the stage win. Würtz Schmidt was well-positioned leading into the sprint and the strong Dane put on a great performance to take fifth place on the line. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) won the stage after a late attack, while Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA – hansgrohe) kept his overall lead.

Mads Würtz Schmidt: “This was a warm and hot day! I tried to get in the break at the beginning of the stage, but we didn’t get a big enough gap. Then Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quickstep) went away and because he was so close in the GC, the peloton never let the break go. We went fast all day, which made for a hectic day as well as the wind was quite strong too. On the last climb, I just kept my own pace, making sure not to get dropped and to make it over the top with the group. When Thomas attacked, I was actually thinking about going as well. In hindsight, I should probably have done that. In any case, I’m glad I was up there today and had the legs to race hard.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Hermans moves up in the GC after stage 4 of Dauphiné

Israel Start-Up Nation’s team leader, Ben Hermans, did well against the clock on stage 4 of Critérium du Dauphiné, moving up to 17th place in the general classification.

Wednesday’s 16.4 km long individual time trial had several short ascents for the riders to overcome, meaning that it was crucial to save energy for the final part of the course.

Early on, Reto Hollenstein put in a strong performance as he crossed the line in fourth place, while Mads Würtz Schmidt came in 14 seconds down on his teammate not long after.

However, the best ISN time of the day was set by Hermans, who stopped the clock at 22:27 minutes, ultimately finishing in 23rd place, which saw him move up to 17th place in the GC going into the upcoming mountain stages.

Ben Hermans: “This was a nice course but a hard course. You had to do six efforts over the hills and if you didn’t have the legs for it, you would be done after the first three. I managed to recover well after each effort, which allowed me to go really deep all the way to the finish. I think I can be happy with my performance today, also looking at the GC. I hope to have good legs in the mountains.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Goldstein in the break on stage 3 of Dauphiné

Israeli champion, Omer Goldstein, showed off his national jersey in the breakaway on stage 3 of Critérium du Dauphiné, while team leader Ben Hermans did well to finish as the best Israel Start-Up Nation rider on the day.

Early in the stage, Goldstein managed to distance the peloton together with one other rider. The duo quickly opened up a gap of a couple of minutes, which they kept for the majority of the stage. However, after missing out the last two days, it was clear that the teams of the sprinters weren’t going to let a third opportunity slip away, and with 20 km left to go, it all came back together again.

Ultimately, Hermans finished in 28th place on the uphill finish, making sure not to lose any time to the other GC riders, as Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) won the stage. Lukas Pöstlberger (BORA – hansgrohe) kept his overall lead.

Omer Goldstein: “I followed the rider from Intermarché when he attacked, hoping that others would do the same, but when I looked back, I realized it was only me. However, I was optimistic because we knew it might be crosswind later on, so it would be better to be at the front in case the peloton split. At the end, it never split, and we got caught again towards the final, but I still got some KOM points, which may come in handy later in the race. I definitely felt better today than yesterday and I’m happy about that.”

Tomorrow, Critérium du Dauphiné continues with a 16.4 km long time trial.

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

Goldstein best in Dauphiné opener

Israeli Champion Omer Goldstein finished in 20th place on stage 1 of Criterium du Dauphiné as best Israel Start-Up Nation rider on the day.

As expected, a small group of four riders got away early on the stage and quickly opening up a gap on the peloton. For a long time, it seemed like the pack had control of the situation but ultimately, one lone rider from the original quartet managed to keep the pack at bay and take the win.

Goldstein did well to sprint and make Top-20 in the reduced peloton, in which GC leader Ben Hermans and Chris Froome finished as well.

Omer Goldstein: “I felt pretty good today. The team stayed together in the pack and the atmosphere was really good. I haven’t raced in quite some time so I still need to find myself but I think my shape is good at the moment. Now, I’m looking forward to the next stages.”

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com

ISN lineup for Critérium du Dauphiné

Israel Start-Up Nation brings a strong and versatile team to the important French stage race Critérium du Dauphiné, starting this weekend.

Often used as the last warm-up race for the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné, offers opportunities for all kinds of riders during its eight challenging stages. Climbers, sprinters, breakaway artists, and time trial specialists will all have a chance to shine in this race.

Selected to represent the ISN colors in the race are Alexis Renard, Reto Hollenstein, Ben Hermans, Chris Froome, Alex Cataford, Mads Würtz Schmidt, and Israeli champion Omer Goldstein.

Sports Manager, Rik Verbrugghe: “We take on Critérium du Dauphiné aiming to race aggressively, trying to win a stage, and to do well in the GC with Ben Hermans. He will be our designated leader, but the rest of the guys will also get their chance. We are not the favorites here, but we will take it day by day and if we can come away with a stage win and good result overalls, it will be perfect.”

Having previously won Critérium du Dauphiné overall on three occasions, Chris Froome is eager to test his legs after a recent altitude training camp. The four-time Tour de France winner is still on his way back after his serious crash during the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019, eyeing next month’s start of the Tour de France.

Chris Froome: “This will be a good opportunity for me to test my legs on a challenging course and see how I have progressed over the last month. The team has been doing great recently, and we hope to continue on that path here.”

This year’s Critérium du Dauphiné starts on Sunday, May 30 with a semi-undulating stage around Issoire, and finishes a week later, on June 6, in Les Gets after a total of 1200 km of hard racing in France.

— MC to israelcyclingacademy.com