Sam Bennett relying on lucky charm as search for form continues

Irish national champion Ryan Mullen best of the Irish on stage six of the Presidential Tour of Turkey

Sam Bennett's team-mate Danny van Poppel was the designated Bora-hansgrohe sprinter on stage six of the Presidential Tour of Turkey on Friday. Bennett was best to the top of the same Eceabat climb three years ago, but he is still searching for form after his injury of last season and is not in the same condition yet.

Van Poppel sprinted in third behind Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix). Irish national champion Ryan Mullen was best of the Irish, three minutes back, with his teammate Bennett a further one minute and four seconds behind.

Saturday’s penultimate stage of the race is a hilly one with two category two climbs, making a bunch sprint unlikely. However, Sunday’s concluding leg in Istanbul is much flatter and may offer Bennett another chance.

Interestingly the Carrick-on-Suir rider has been sporting an evil eye bead charm on his bike in order to ward off bad luck and injuries and to bring him better fortunes. “I never take this bead off my bike so that I don’t get the evil eye,” he said, according to Konyayenigun.com.

“Sometimes the mechanics want to take it off the bike, I say ‘don’t touch it!’ That evil eye bead has now become an essential part of my bike. I hope it brings me luck and protects me from injuries. I’m touching wood for this.”

Bennett has won nine stage wins in the past and started the race determined to chase his first victory of the 2022 season. Third place on stage two is his best result of the week. He has told journalists in Turkey that he believes it will take him one more month to get back to his previous level.

PRESIDENTIAL TOUR OF TURKEY

Stage 6, Edremit to Eceabat: 1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 201.5 kilometres in 4 hours 54', 2 J Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), 3 D van Poppel (Bora-hansgrohe), 4 P Bevin (Israel-Premier Tech), 5 C Stewart (Team BikeExchange - Jayco) all same time

Irish: 94 R Mullen (Bora-hansgrohe) at 3', 124 S Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) at 4'04", 140 C McGeough (Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling) 5'25", 146 J Ewart (Bike Aid) 5'31"

Overall standings: 1 Eduardo Sepulveda (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) 24 hours 12'07", 2 P Bevin (Israel-Premier Tech) 11", 3 J Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) 25", 4 H Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) 37", 5 A Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) 46"

Irish: 84 R Mullen (Bora-hansgrohe) 18'53", 94 S Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) 21 mins 54", 98 C McGeough (Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling) 23 mins 52", 107 J Ewart (Bike Aid) 27 mins 53"