Belgium’s Ben Hermans on Sunday celebrated “the most beautiful” first big win of his career in the Tour of Oman on Sunday.

Alexander Kristoff took the final day honours in a sprint with 30-year-old Hermans avoiding any mishaps in the closing sixth stage.

The BMC rider had topped the overall standings since surprising a group of better fancied rivals with a late attack to win Wednesday’s second stage.

He followed that up with Saturday’s penultimate mountain stage to set up the win which comes after his second place finish in last month’s Tour of Valencia.

Hermans’ main claim to fame up to this season was serving as lieutenant to his more decorated compatriot Philippe Gilbert.

But after the former world champion’s move to Quick Step Hermans has capitalised on what he says is his “newfound responsibility and freedom” at BMC.

“To be worthy of this confidence I worked really hard over the winter, that’s clearly the reason behind my early season form,” he said.

Looking ahead he added: “The aim now will be to build on this in the Ardennes classics.”

Kristoff, followed across the line in Muscat by Eduard Grosu of Romania and Italy’s Sacha Modolo, was annexing his third stage of the race.

The Katusha rider described the final dash for the line at the end of a 152 kilometre ride as “very complicated” due to the headwind on Muscat’s Muttrah Corniche.

The Norwegian added: “This week is going to give me a lot of confidence before my main objectives, the Nieuwsblad (a one day race in Belgium) and the Paris-Nice.”

In the general rankings, Portuguese rider Rui Costa came in second at 22sec with Italian Fabio Aru in third at 35sec.

Hermans adds his name to a roll of honour in Oman that includes cycling greats Chris Froome and last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali. – Agence France-Presse

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