Impressive Sam Bennett takes seventh win of season in France

Also in the main bunch was fellow Irishman Dan Martin who stays in 17th overall

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Ireland’s Sam Bennett celebrates as he crosses the finish line after the third stage of the 71st edition of the Criterium du Dauphine. Photograph: Getty Images

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Ireland’s Sam Bennett celebrates as he crosses the finish line after the third stage of the 71st edition of the Criterium du Dauphine. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Sam Bennett underlined his status as arguably the best sprinter in cycling with victory on stage three of the Criterium du Dauphiné in France on Tuesday. The Carrick-on-Suir rider showed confidence and speed in the gallop to the line, blasting in ahead of Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma), Davide Ballerini (Astana Pro Team) and the rest of the main bunch.

The success was Bennett’s seventh win of the year.

“It was a pretty chaotic final,” he said. “I was a little bit worried with how my legs were after the last two days, and then it was so cold during the stage. You are always going to feel bad when it is that cold. I wanted the guys to pull back and wait a long time. It was hard to stay together as everybody is trying to stay up for GC, and the sprinters.”

Bennett was helped in the finale by New Zealand teammate Shane Archbold, who reunited with him in April of this year after riding in 2018 with the Irish squad Aqua Blue Sport and the first part of this season with another Irish team EvoPro Racing.

“At the last moment Shane said, ‘I am still good’,” Bennett explained. “He hit it and brought me to 200 to go. I felt really good in the final. I want to thank the full team again, they rode really hard all day and the guys did a great job in the final to keep me in a good position.”

Also in the main bunch was fellow Irishman Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), who rolled in 76th. He stays 17th overall, 55 seconds behind the race leader Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida). Martin finished third and fourth in the past two editions of the race but was caught behind a split on Monday’s stage, losing time to other race contenders.

Bennett’s success adds to victories in the season-opening Vuelta a San Juan Internacional, the UAE Tour, Paris-Nice and the Presidential Tour of Turkey. Aside from the Tour de Romandie, where he was second on stage two after a breakaway rider stayed clear to the line, he has topped the podium at least once in every stage race this year.

“I am trying to get a win in each stage race I go to,” he said. “It is sometimes hard to do, to keep that consistency all year. Bar Romandie, I am doing pretty good in the stage races. I just want to keep this going now.”

However he confirmed that he won’t be riding the Tour de France. He was already passed over by the team for the Giro d’Italia, with the German squad favouring the German rider Pascal Ackermann. Some had hoped that Bennett’s strong form might see him ride the Tour de France alongside triple world champion Peter Sagan, who hasn’t been in his usual form this year, but the Irishman said on Tuesday afternoon that there had been no change of plan by the team in relation to July. “I think the next stage race is the BinckBank Tour.”

That will heighten the expectation that he will leave Bora Hansgrohe for 2020 and instead ride for a squad which will give him full recognition of his place in the sport and prioritise him for the big races.

Criterium du Dauphiné, France (WorldTour)

Stage 3, Le Puy-en-Velay to Riom: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 177 kilometres in 4 hours 15 mins 25 secs; 2, W. Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma); 3, D. Ballerini (Astana Pro Team); 4, C. Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale); 5, E. Theuns (Trek-Segafredo); 6, E. Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) all same time

Other Irish: 76, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) same time

General Classification: 1, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) 11 hours 52 mins 28 secs; 2, G. Martin (Wanty-Gobert) at 3 secs; 3, A. Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) at 20 secs; 4, J. Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) same time; 5, N. Quintana (Movistar Team) at 24 secs; 6, T. Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) same time

Irish: 17, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) at 55 secs; 109, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 27 mins 5 secs

Points Classification: 1, Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 42 pts; 2, E. Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) 39; 3, A. Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) 38

Irish: 6, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 25

Mountains Classification: 1, Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb) 18 pts; 2, M. Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) 13; 3, J. Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 12

Young Riders Classification: 1, Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 11 hours 54 mins 18 secs; 2, B. Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) at 9 secs; 3, O. Christian Eiking (Wanty-Gobert) same time

Teams Classification: 1, Astana Pro Team, 35 hours 40 mins 12 secs; 2, EF Education First, at 31 secs; 3, Groupama-FDJ, same time

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