Bennett back on track after first win of season

Irish sprinter’s success in Eschborn-Frankfurt race brings to a close a long frustrating period without a victory

Ireland’s Sam Bennett celebrates winning the Eschborn-Frankfurt race in Germany. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Image

Sam Bennett has received a huge boost to his confidence after landing his first victory in almost a year. The Carrick-on-Suir sprinter was clearly quickest at the end of the Eschborn-Frankfurt race in Frankfurt, winning the WorldTour race ahead of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux).

Bennett's success brings to a close a long frustrating period without a victory. He clocked up seven victories last season. but then sustained a knee injury when he hit his knee off his handlebars while training in early June. That ruled him out of the Baloise Belgium Tour and then forced him to miss the Tour de France. He eventually returned to racing in September but did only four races between then and early October, withdrawing from each of them.

Efforts this season to get back on track had been somewhat frustrating, with one second and two third places his best results until Sunday’s success.

Bennett benefitted from a strong lead-out from Bora-hansgrohe team-mate Danny van Poppel in the final kilometre. The Dutchman accelerated past several other riders with Bennett glued to his wheel, and while Gaviria was in turn tracking him and began his sprint fractionally earlier, he was immediately left on the back foot when the Irishman accelerated.


“The team were fantastic today,” he told media at the finish. “They really looked after me all day. They helped to control the race and then in the final it was a perfect job in the positioning. All the guys were fantastic and Danny, especially, really timed the lead-out to perfection. He brought me inside 200 to go with a lot of speed. I had really good legs as well.”

Two months

Sunday’s success is Bennett’s first in 359 days. It comes exactly two months before the start of the Tour de France, and will give him a huge confidence boost.

He paid credit to Bora-hansgrohe, who have worked closely with him since his move back from Deceuninck-QuickStep over the winter.

“I just want to thank the team, the whole team, the staff, just for supporting me in the past few months, getting me back on track and always believing in me,” Bennett said. “I am super happy with this result, especially with a German team in a German race. It is fantastic to get the win for them.

“Nobody puts pressure on me like I put pressure on myself. Of course I knew it was important to do a result today.”

The success is the 57th win of Bennett’s career. He took two stages plus the green jersey in the 2020 Tour de France, and is fully focussed on adding to that in July.

He suggested that he can step things up further in the coming weeks.

“In the last couple of months I was still just working on the base,” he said. “I started working on my top end in the last 10 days and it is already showing. I have a training period now where I can really work on it, and work on some big goals in June and July.”

Eschborn-Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany (WorldTour): 1 Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) 185 kilometres in 4 hours 27'52", 2 F Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), 3 A Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), 4 P Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious), 5 D van Poppel (Bora-hansgrohe) all same time