Sam Bennett sprints home for impressive stage win in Tour of Britain
Bennett, who is still just 22 years of age, rode with authority in the final kilometre
Sam Bennett on his way to winning Stage Five of the Tour of Britain from Machynlleth to Caerphilly yesterday. Photograph: David Davies/PA
After taking second and 10th places on stages earlier this week, Sam Bennett notched up the biggest result of his career yesterday when he sprinted in at the head of a very select 15 man group on day five of the Tour of Britain.
The An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly rider underlined his class when he reached the finish with some of the strongest riders in the race, including overall leader and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky), this year’s Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar) plus fellow Irishman Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a mountain stage in the Tour.
Bennett, who is still just 22 years of age and is essentially an amateur rider, survived two ascents of the steep first category climb of Caerphilly mountain and then rode with authority in the final kilometre.
He manoeuvred Wiggins off Polish rider Michael Golas’ wheel, and then tracked the Omega Pharma Quick Step competitor when he opened up his sprint. Bennett then kicked hard and easily came around him, taking what was a very impressive win.
“I am delighted,” he told The Irish Times. “After the stage I was shaking as the adrenaline was still going. Going up the final climb, I was trying to stay close to Sky. The hill was hard but I knew if I just held on, there was a descent down to the finish and I could recover in time for the sprint.
“With 100 metres to go I went, and felt comfortable enough.”
Showed his ability
A former European junior track champion, Bennett showed his ability when he won a stage of the An Post Rás at just 18 years of age. He took two more this year, and had shown very good form against the pros in recent weeks.
His Tour of Britain achievements eclipse those, though, and after being pipped by Milan San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) on stage two, he delivered in style yesterday.
Sean Kelly and An Post Chainreaction manager Kurt Bogaerts have worked with Bennett to help him develop. Kelly now believes he has reached a turning point.
“Already you can see that the talent is there. I would reckon there is more to come and now that he has the confidence, it should make a difference.”
Bennett said that he will try to take another stage before the race ends on Sunday, and hopes to land a pro contract.
Martin also rode very well, attacking on the final ascent but being brought back before the finish.
He has moved up to ninth overall, one minute 38 second behind Wiggins. Bennett holds the blue points jersey while his team-mate Sean Downey is second to Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Movistar) in the mountains competition.
Martin and Bennett will ride the elite road race at next week’s world championships, along with Nicolas Roche and Matt Brammeier.