Hermans wins back-to-back Tour of Utah stages, extends lead

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SALT LAKE CITY — Ben Hermans followed his dramatic effort at Powder Mountain by riding clear of his closest rivals on the finishing circuit Thursday to win his second straight stage in the Tour of Utah.

The stage from Antelope Island to the Utah capital covered 86 miles, but it wasn’t decided until the punchy downtown loop. The breakaway of Alex Howes, Lorenzo Fortunato, Travis McCabe and Marco Canola was soon caught, and Hermans began to position himself at the front of the lead group.

The Israel Cycling Academy rider attacked with a mile to go, then held off Kyle Murphy by seven seconds to extend his overall lead. Hermans now tops James Piccoli by 43 seconds with three stages left.

The fan-friendly stage Friday in Salt Lake City is made up of eight laps of a 6.7-mile course for a total of 54 miles. It is the same course that was used in 2013 and again in 2017.