Hermans aiming for a stage win at Giro d'Italia

Israel Cycling Academy rider growing in optimism at Tour of the Alps

Ben Hermans says that stage victories - rather than the general classification - will be his primary target when he rides the Giro d'Italia next month.

The Belgian is one of four riders confirmed for the Israel Cycling Academy's debut Grand Tour line-up, with Ruben Plaza, Krists Neilands and Guillaume Boivin all getting the nod.

Hermans previously finished 14th overall at the 2016 Vuelta a España, and while he suggested late last year that he would like to improve on that at the Giro, stage success is at the forefront of his mind.

"I will first focus on a stage win," the 31-year-old told Cyclingnews in Ora at the start of stage 3 of the Tour of the Alps on Wednesday. "Here I am also focusing on a stage win, but the first two stages were too hard to go for a stage win. That's why I'm up there in the GC and didn't want to drop back. Mentally, I think it is better to be up there than to drop back and then go for a stage win. The Giro is different."

To achieve his target, Hermans is hoping that he can make it into a rare breakaway that will be allowed to go all the way to the finish, but he knows that there will be plenty of others on the same mission.

"Those are the stages we are also looking for, the stages that the team of the leader says the breakaway can go and it's hard enough to make a difference in the end," explained Hermans.

With two stages still to go, Hermans currently sits 12th overall at the Tour of the Alps, 2:02 behind the race leader Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

He lost more than a minute on stage 3 after losing contact with the leaders in a frenetic finale. However, he put in a strong performance on the queen stage the day previously to finish ninth on the Alpe di Pampeago, a result that gives him confidence for his Giro ambitions.

"If you can be up there in the top-10 then you can fight for a stage win at the Giro," he said. "I hope that I will get that opportunity one day and maybe in this race it will also be possible one day. It's not easy for me on those steep climbs to follow the pocket climbers but I think that I have good legs."

Hermans joined the Israel Cycling Academy over the winter after four seasons with the BMC Racing team and he is enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere of the Pro Continental set-up.

"I feel very good. I don't have too much stress to achieve results and they're always happy when I'm just up at the front and I try to do my best," said Hermans. "For sure, I am also trying to win but they don't expect it from me."

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