Sam Bennett claims ninth win of the season in Belgium
Irish road-race champion takes opening stage of Binck Bank Tour
Sam Bennett took stage one of the Binck Bank Tour in Belgium on Monday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Sam Bennett notched up his first victory since taking the Irish road-race championships at the end of June, blasting to success on a rain-lashed opening day of the Binck Bank Tour in Belgium on Monday.
The Carrick-on-Suir rider had a large gap in racing after his nationals success but, in what is only his third day of racing since his break, rediscovered winning form on the streets of Hulst. He left his final sprint late but had no difficulties in speeding past his rivals, beating Edward Teuns (Trek-Segafredo), Mike Teunissen (Team Jumbo-Visma) and the rest of the main bunch.
The victory is the ninth of Bennett’s season and is a big confidence booster in advance of the start of the Vuelta a España on September 24th. “I’m really happy to get my first win in the Irish champion’s jersey here,” he said. “It was a bit dangerous today with the rain, and I skidded a couple of times, but everything ended up okay.
“The guys put me in a good position in the finale, and I tried to keep this position over the last two kilometres. Then I got behind one of the sprint trains and then I launched my sprint at the right moment.”
Bennett was born in Belgium to Irish parents and he noted his link to his birth country. “I have a special connection with Belgium,” he said, “and I am particularly happy about this win because it is always difficult to win at this race.”
Bennett has notched up two other strong results this month. On August 4th he was second in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, then on Sunday he was sixth in the European road-race championships.
Bennett is the race leader heading into Tuesday’s second stage of the race. He is two seconds clear of Lukasz Wisniowski (CCC Team) and three ahead of Lars Bak (Dimension Data).
Stage two is completely flat and should once again end in a big bunch sprint. The WorldTour race runs until next Sunday.