The Belgian, who came into the race as the red-hot favourite, attacked with less than 1,000 metres to go on the final climb, catching and passing Rein Taaramäe (Astana Pro Team) with the finishline in sight.
Hermans now leads the race by seven seconds from Taaramäe with home favourite Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN – Qhubeka) third at 24 seconds. Overnight leader Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) fought to stay with the leaders on the summit finish but was dropped with three kilometres to go. The Norwegian remains in control of the points jersey with one stage remaining.
However, the stage to Målselv belonged to Hermans, who allowed Taaramäe to open gaps twice on the final climb. On the first occasions Hermans used his team to close the gap, and when Taaramäe attacked again with two kilometres remaining, the Belgian allowed his Estonian rival to toil into a headwind before closing the gap inside of the final 1,000 metres.
“I was always about 100 metres back from him but I knew that there was a headwind. I could jump across with 1.5km to go but I thought I’d explode so I waited in the wheels of my teammates and then at the last kilometre there was a tailwind and I attacked. I thought that I might crack but I had to go if I wanted to win,” Hermans said at the finish.
“This is amazing because you know that if you win you take the 10 seconds bonus and the jersey. That’s incredible."
The race’s final stage is far from easy with two climbs and an intermediate sprint coming inside the final 30 kilometres. Hermans is confident that he can hang on for the overall victory but is wary of his rivals attacking him.
“Of course I can win this race tomorrow. I have a strong team and I just need the same legs again. We can control it, we still have to race but it’s possible.
“I would expect my rivals to attack me tomorrow. I’d do the same but they really have to drop me because the gap is a bit too big.”
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