Sam Bennett had another near-miss at the UAE Tour on Thursday, finishing a fine third on the race's fifth stage. Bennett was led out strongly by his Bora-hansgrohe teammates including Irish champion Ryan Mullen, but one of the riders in top early-season form, stage one winner Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), was too quick and overtook him.
Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) was also able to get past him closer to the finish line, putting Bennett third on the stage.
The Carrick-on-Suir rider told The Irish Times in the run up to the United Arab Emirates event that it would take several months before he gets back to full speed. He suffered a knee injury last June and missed a large chunk of racing and training as a consequence of that. The event is his first of this season, and his first stage race since last May.
Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) continued in the red jersey of overall leader, expanding his advantage by two seconds in an intermediate sprint. He is now four seconds clear of Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) overall. He had a scare with less than seven kilometres to go when he suffered a rear wheel puncture, but was able to chase back on with the help of his team.
Bennett has another opportunity on Friday’s penultimate stage. It is a flat 180 kilometre race to Expo 2020 Dubai, and is again set to end in a bunch sprint.
The UAE Tour concludes on Saturday with an uphill finish at Jebel Hafeet.
UAE Tour, United Arab Emirates (WorldTour)
Stage 5, Ras al Khaimah Corniche to Al Marjan Island: 1, Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 182 kilometres in 4 hours 17'5", 2, O Kooij (Jumbo-Visma), 3, S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), 4, M Malucelli (Gazprom-Rusvelo), 5, R Barbier (Israel-Premier Tech) all same time
116 R Mullen (Bora-hansgrohe) 30”
General classification after stage 5: 1, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 18 hours 19’37”, 2, F Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) 4”, 3, A Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) 14”, 4, A Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) 17”, 5, N Powless (EF Education-Easypost) 25”
Irish: 78 R Mullen (Bora-hansgrohe) 14’45”
110 S Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) 21’47”
Points: 1 Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 71, 2 D Strakhov (Gazprom-RusVelo) 41, 3 T Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 34
Irish: 5 S Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) 28