Sam Bennett finished off the Presidential Tour of Turkey in style on Sunday, breaking clear over a kilometre from the end of the final stage in Istanbul and soloing to victory. Bennett crashed on the narrow, twisting circuit 12 months ago, losing out on a likely stage win, and as a result decided to drop the normal tactics for a sprint specialist and jump clear before the technical section.
The other riders couldn’t cope with his acceleration and he quickly opened a gap. The chase was then hampered slightly by a crash on a tight right-hand bend. Bennett raced down the finishing straight and despite his celebrations, finished a full six seconds clear of the next riders, who were led home by Eduard Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing Team).
“Firstly, I want to thank the Bora - hansgrohe boys for their amazing work today,” said Bennett. “The whole team came together to put me exactly where I needed to be before I attacked. I can’t thank them enough. With the top 10 on GC sitting so close on time, I knew I needed to just ride when the moment was right and it paid off.
“Attacks were imminent and the legs felt good so I made sure to get the win for the team and to take home the sprint jersey too. I’m so happy that this is how I’ve finished my 2018 season.”
Bennett had started the day leading the points classification. He lost out on that victory last year due to his crash, but this time around his stage win saw him take that competition in style. It was his third stage victory of this year’s race, and he was also fourth on Saturday’s penultimate stage and second on the opening stage last Tuesday.
Fellow Irishman Nicolas Roche was 20th on the final stage and finished a fine tenth overall. He was ten seconds behind Prades Reverter, who jumped up from second to first overall because of his runner-up slot on Sunday.
Meanwhile Dan Martin was one of the strongest riders in the final Classic of the season on Saturday, Il Lombardia. He attacked repeatedly to try to reel in solo leader Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and the rider who was in pursuit, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), but was closely marked by others in the chase group. Pinot took the victory 32 seconds ahead of Nibali and 43 ahead of Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team).
Martin could have settled for a top five placing with more conservative tactics, but his push for victory saw him finally finish ninth.
Presidential Tour of Turkey (WorldTour):
Stage 5, Selçuk to Manisa: 1, Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) 137.3 kilometres in 3 hours 15 mins 12 secs; 2, J. Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo); 3, N. Haas (Katusha-Alpecin); 4, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe); 5, C. Noppe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise); 6, E. Theuns (Team Sunweb) all same time
Other Irish: 30, N. Roche (BMC Racing Team) same time
Stage 6, Bursa - Istanbul: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 166.7 kilometres in 3 hours 36 mins 28 secs; 2, E. Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) at 6 secs; 3, J.P Drucker (BMC Racing Team); 4, M. Teunissen (Team Sunweb); 5, S. Sajnok (CCC Sprandi Polkowice); 6, G. Serrano Rodriguez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) all same time
Other Irish: 20, N. Roche (BMC Racing Team) same time
Final general classification: 1, Eduard Prades Reverter (Euskadi Basque
Country-Murias) 22 hours 26 mins 16 secs; 2, A. Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) same time; 3, N. Haas (Katusha-Alpecin 4 secs; 4, D. Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) same time; 5, F. Felline (Trek-Segafredo) at 9 secs; 6, R. Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo) at 10 secs
Irish: 10, N. Roche (BMC Racing Team) same time; 91, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 11 mins 26 secs
Points Classification: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 71 pts; 2, A. Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) 41; 3, J.P Drucker (BMC Racing Team) 38
Il Lombardia, Italy (WorldTour): 1, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) 241 kilometres in 5 hours 53 mins 22 secs; 2, V. Nibali (Bahrain - Merida) at 32 secs; 3, D. Teuns (BMC Racing Team) at 43 secs; 4, R. Uran (Team EF Education First - Drapac P/B Cannondale); 5, T. Wellens (Lotto Soudal); 6, I. Izagirre Insausti (Bahrain - Merida) all same time
Irish: 9, D. Martin (UAE Team Emirates) at 48 secs