Freshly motivated it seems from puncturing before one of the final climbs in Milan-San Remo last Sunday, Sam Bennett bounced back in spectacular fashion to take his first career victory in a World Tour one-day race, winning the 45th Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne by just more than a bike length after another dominant lead-out of his Deceuninck-Quick-Step team-mates.
The 30-year-old Irish rider, who has enjoyed an excellent start to the season by winning four of the six bunch sprints he has contested since kicking off his campaign in February, was the outright favourite and proved on the finishing straight exactly why he carried this tag going into the race.
Led through the final left-hand corner by his team-mates, having been brought to the front by Florian Sénéchal and Bert Van Lerberghe, Bennett then had Michael Mørkøv for company with 200 meters to go and once he came off the wheel of the experienced Dane, launched a trademark sprint that left old rivals Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) with no hope.
In notching up his fifth victory of the season, Bennett became the sixth different Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider in 10 years to win the Belgian race and helped the team increase their lead in the UCI World Team Classification.
“It’s a great day for me and the team. Winning a World Tour one-day race was something I’ve been chasing for many years and I’m very happy to get it here today,” Bennett said after his success.
“The guys did a fantastic job, remained calm and worked hard for this result the entire day. I can’t thank them enough for this. In the last metres, I didn’t focus on anyone else, just did my sprint and now I’m happy with this win, important for us but also for our Belgian sponsors. The confidence is high in the team, which is excellent ahead of our next races”.