Bennett sprints to Paris-Nice stage win

Irish rider holds off rivals to continue fine early season form

Ireland’s Sam Bennett of Bora Hansgrohe team celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the third stage of the Paris-Nice. Photograph: EPA

Ireland’s Sam Bennett of Bora Hansgrohe team celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the third stage of the Paris-Nice. Photograph: EPA

 

Sam Bennett nabbed his third sprint victory of the year on Tuesday, powering in to win stage three of the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race. Bennett launched his sprint early and was strong enough to hold off the Australian Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), who was lurking on his wheel but was unable to get past.

Double stage winner Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) also tried to overtake the Irishman, but cracked and sat up, finishing ninth.

“He was super-strong the last two days, I think unbeatable,” said Bennett of Groenewegen, who continues to lead overall. “I had bad legs, really bad legs the past two days. I don’t know if it was coming from the heat to the cold. I haven’t really been training in the cold this winter. I knew that the form was there and I just had to keep on trying.

“Today the legs were a lot better. Okay, it was an easier day but I’m starting to get more used to the cold. It’s not that cold, but it is colder. I knew today was my last sprint opportunity. I did everything I could. The boys (his Bora-hansgrohe team) did a fantastic job in the last kilometre. They really knew what they were doing to get me in the right position. I was using the least amount of energy possible. There was a great team effort today, I want to thank the boys . . . they did a great job all day. I am delighted.”

Bennett clocked up three stage wins in last year’s Giro d’Italia, as well as four other victories. This year he has topped the podium three times, finding success in each stage race he has taken part in. He triumphed first on stage seven of the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, and earlier this month won the last stage of the UAE Tour. In doing so - and in taking his second career stage win in Paris-Nice - he has beaten the world’s top sprinters, further underlining his talent.

“There is strong competition here and last week, and I am starting to show I can compete with the best,” he said. “I am very proud of that, and very proud of the job the team is doing for me.”

Paris-Nice, France (WorldTour)

Stage three, Cepoy to Moulins/Yzeure: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 200 kilometres in 5 hours 16 mins 25 secs; 2, C. Ewan (Lotto Soudal); 3, F. Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep); 4, D. McLay (EF Education First); 5, B. Coquard (Vital Concept-B&B Hotel); 6, N. Bonifazio (Direct Energie) all same time

General classification after stage three: 1, Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) 11 hours 47 mins 44 secs; 2, M. Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) at 6 secs; 3, L. León Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) at 11 secs; 4, P. Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 16 secs; 5, E. Bernal (Team Sky) at 17 secs; 6, M. Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) at 20 secs

Irish: 82, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 8 mins 58 secs

Points classification: 1: D Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) 32 pts; 2: C Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 24; 3: S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 22

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