Ben Hermans heads up this week's team of the week after taking a somewhat unexpected victory in the Tour of Oman
Leader: Ben Hermans (BMC Racing)
Few would have expected Ben Hermans to keep up with climbers illustrious as Fabio Aru (Astana), Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) on the climbs of last week’s Tour of Oman, but the Belgian even went one better than that and got the better of them all to comprehensively win the overall classification, winning both summit finishes.
Hermans has been steadily improving for a couple of years now, especially in hilly races, and this result suggests he could ride for GC at a Grand Tour – or at least provide a valuable service for teammate Richie Porte at the Tour de France.
Team Captain: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
The veteran Spaniard used all his experience and know-how to pounce on stage one for victory, pace himself and preserve energy on stage two’s mountain top finish, blitz the following time trial, and finally defended his lead in the lumpy final stage.
Sprinter: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin)
Opting to ride among a relatively weak field of sprinters at the Tour of Oman, while the likes of Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Fernando Gaviria faced off at the Volta ao Algarve, might have been the move of a flat track bully, but Alexander Kristoff rarely fails to deliver when he’s the favourite and reliably delivered three bunch sprint victories out of three.
Climber: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
It’s not like we haven’t been prematurely carried away by Thibaut Pinot in the past – this time last year he was wowing us all with this new time-trial position, only to flop at the Tour with illness.
But it was hard not to get excited by the way he caught and passed Alberto Contador on the Pena del Aguila at the Ruta del Sol, to score a rare victory over the Spanish climbing legend.
Time trialist: Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) might have ridden the 18km course around Sagres five seconds quicker to win stage two of the Volta ao Algarve, but the way Primoz Roglic managed to recover after having climbed toe-to-toe with Dan Martin just the day before meant that his third place – which laid the foundations for overall victory – was the most impressive and significant effort against the clock this week.
Escape artist: Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal)
Well renowned as a serial attacker, Wellens has been well rewarded for his aggressive instincts recently. His victory in a six-man breakaway sprint at the Ruta del Sol – pulled off in typically bold fashion with the Belgian with him launching an early sprint 300m from the line – is already his third triumph of the season.
Domestique: Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors)
Quick-Step Floors blew away on stage two’s summit finish at the Volta ao Algarve, with 22-year old Enric Mas making a name for himself by distancing most of the field, along with Zdenek Stybar, to set up a Dan Martin win.