Sam Bennett fourth as Dan Martin remains sixth overall on UAE Tour
Bora-hansgrohe rider edged out in sprint to the line as Elia Viviani takes stage
Italian Elia Viviani of DeceuninckQuick-Step team (second) sprints to win ahead of Colombian Fernando Gaviria of UAE Team during the fifth stage of the UAE tour in Khor Fakkan. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
Sam Bennett went close to taking his second win of the year on Thursday, netting fourth on stage five of the UAE Tour. Bennett was in the thick of things in the final sprint but, on this occasion, finished just behind Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and 14-time Tour de France stage victor Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin).
Bennett has beaten each of those in the past, but had to settle for a place just off the podium.
“Today we made a plan and stuck by it,” he explained. “We did everything to the best of our abilities and that’s all we could do. I had the legs, the backing of the team, and a great position in the final.”
However he said that things have to go perfectly in order to win against such strong opposition. “The level is so high and some very small things have a big impact,” he continued. “Unfortunately I didn’t get the win today. I’d like to thank the team for their efforts.”
His Bora-hansgrohe sport director Enrico Poitschke noted that Bennett will likely have another chance on the final stage on Saturday. That too is expected to end in a sprint, while Friday’s penultimate leg concludes at the top of the tough Jebel Jais climb.
That should play perfectly to Dan Martin’s strengths. He rolled in as part of the main bunch on Thursday, placing 60th. He remains sixth overall, one minute and one second behind the ongoing race leader Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma). World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) is 21 seconds back in second, while David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is a further 17 seconds behind in third.
Martin is still chasing form but if he is on a strong day on Friday, he could well contend for the stage win and progress further up the general classification.
In Poland, Felix English and Robyn Stewart were in action on day two of the UCI world track championships. English rode aggressively in the men’s scratch race and finished 18th, while Stewart was 29th in the women’s sprint.
Next up on Friday are Mark Downey in the men’s points race and Shannon McCurley in the women’s Omnium. Racing continues until Sunday, giving further opportunity to Irish riders.
At home, the road racing season gets underway this weekend. Saturday sees the running of races in Summerhill and Banbridge, while Sunday will feature events in Tralee, Antrim and Navan.