For a rider who diligently picked up five top-15 places in stage races this season – including 14th at the Vuelta a Espana – that must have come as something of a surprise. Yet the 30-year-old has taken it in his stride as he sets out his goals for 2017, with a Grand Tour, more opportunities in week-long stage races and a chance to ride in the Ardennes classics all on the cards.
“I’ve been told by the team to start having some peaks and to stop being consistent. It’s better to win two races and have three bad months,” Hermans tells Cyclingnews.
“I’m more or less always on the same level and I’m always trying to be good in every race. I hope to have a bit more luck so that I can win races and still be good in all my races.”
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In a sense Hermans, who won De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne in 2015, is the prototype BMC athlete. The squad pride themselves on being consistent throughout the year with an emphasis place on WorldTour points. Hermans may have just 21 points but with several riders leaving the team he is now in the top five BMC riders according to the UCI rankings. After his impressive Vuelta it’s little wonder that the team are asking him to take on slightly more responsibility. It is also worth noting that he has abandoned just four times in the last two seasons – an impressive statistic in itself for a rider who consistently rides in the service of others.
“I wasn’t there to do a GC,” he says modestly when asked to reflect on his Vuelta ride.
“I was there to have a chance at winning a stage and to help Samuel Sanchez but then he crashed out. I was there in many of the finales with him so that’s why I ended up in 14th place.
“I wasn’t there for GC because in the three Grand Tours I’d done before I always had a bad day, either by getting sick or just having a bad day. This year I was always in the finales but we didn’t go there with the aim of having the team behind me.”
The Vuelta experience, tied in with the departure of Philippe Gilbert and Darwin Atapuma – both of whom had more WorldTour points than Hermans – has given Hermans a clearer path. He will still be utilised as a domestique during much of the coming campaign but there will be chances for him to realise his ambitions.
“I try to be good for the Ardennes but it’s hard to peak there for just two weeks, two or three days really. It’s not like a stage race. I’m really motivated to have a good performance there.
"We have more freedom because we don’t have to control the race for Phil when all the other teams think we can win the race. We can watch more, then wait and then attack.”
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