Ben Hermans' winning ride Wednesday to the top of Powder Mountain on stage 2 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah was not the first time the Israel Cycling Academy raced up the climb outside of Ogden, Utah.
In 2014, Hermans finished second to Tom Danielson, who was riding for Garmin-Sharp at the time, crossing the line next to Chris Horner 57 seconds behind the winner.
Danielson went on the win the overall race for the second time in 2014, finishing 52 seconds ahead of Horner (Lampre-Merida) and 1:43 ahead of Horner’s teammate Winner Anacona. Hermans, Who was riding for BMC Racing at the time, was fourth overall at 1:46.
When Danielson returned to Utah to defend his title in 2015, however, he announced on the eve of the race that he had tested positive for a exogenous testosterone. It was Danielson’s second violation after he admitted to using doping products during his years with Lance Armstrong’s teams and was handed a six-month ban. He was banned for four years in his most recent violation.
Wednesday evening after Hermans won atop the climb, former Israel Cycling Academy teammate Luis Lemus tweeted that he considered Hermans’ win a "repeat" victory.
Asked Thursday morning before the start of stage 3 on Antelope Island whether he considered this year’s victory his second on Powder Mountain, the 33-year-old Belgian, who finished second overall to Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) last year, was expectedly diplomatic.
"It doesn’t matter how I feel about it, it matters how it is," Hermans told Cyclingnews. "I think Tom Danielson has the win, so this is the first time I’ve won. I was second in 2014."
Hermans told Cyclingnews he did not know enough about Danielson’s most recent doping case to make a judgement about the now-retired rider.
"That was a year later, of course," he said. "I don’t know anything about his case also. I’ve seen many riders who believed they were innocent, that they didn’t do anything and still got positive. So I also believe that some guys, they can get positive when they are not doing anything.
"So I don’t know if that was the case with Tom Danielson," he said. "I really regret if something happens like that. Yesterday I won the race, and there is no doubt about that."
The 2019 Tour of Utah continues Thursday with a 138.3km stage from Antelope Island State Park to the Bountiful Bench in North Salt Lake.