Sam Bennett sprints home to take opening stage in Turkey
Waterford rider claims fifth victory of the season after returning from break
Sam Bennett won the opening stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in Tekirdag. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
Sam Bennett blasted to his fifth victory of the season on Tuesday, winning the opening stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in Tekirdag. In doing so, the Carrick-on-Suir rider became the first overall leader of the race, and notched up his eighth career stage win in the event.
Bennett judged things perfectly, slotting in behind the Deceuninck-QuickStep team when it led out its sprinter Fabio Jakobsen inside the final 500 metres. Jakobsen launched his sprint but Bennett had little problem in getting past him and grabbing the win.
Bennett recently took a break from racing after riding the Milan-San Remo Classic but, after 24 days away from competition, he has wasted no time in returning to the top of the podium.
He thanked his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates after his triumph. “The boys did a super job, I give them a lot of credit today,” he said. “After my break, I don’t really have the same condition, but I know as a sprinter you still have to get the results. But without the guys today, it would have been very difficult. So I definitely want to thank them for that.
“I saw QuickStep coming at the last moment. I had to try to get that wheel. It was very difficult because he is a really quick guy. I am really happy to get that.”
Bennett has had a very successful year thus far. He won the final stage of the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional at the start of February, then won the concluding leg of the UAE Tour in March. Later that month he won stages three and six in the prestigious Paris-Nice race.
“I learned a lot last season,” said Bennett. “I think I am maturing a lot as a rider, and hopefully I am just going to get better and better.
“As a sprinter you have to try to win all season long whether you are good or bad. Maybe I dipped my form a bit too much [during his break from racing], but it was enough today.”
He took three stages plus the points classification in last year’s Presidential Tour of Turkey. While it is unclear how he will fare on the uphill final three kilometres of Wednesday’s second stage finish, he is gunning for a successful week in Turkey.
“I will take each day as it comes. There is a bit of pressure off now, but we still want more wins.”
PRESIDENTIAL TOUR OF TURKEY (WORLDTOUR)
Stage 1, Istanbul - Tekirdag: 1 Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 3 hours 32 mins 34 secs; 2 F Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep); 3 C Ewan (Lotto Soudal); 4 E Grosu (Delko Marseille Provence); 5 S Consonni (UAE Team Emirates); 6 L Pacioni (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM) all same time
General classification after stage 1: 1 Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 3 hours 32 mins 24 secs; 2 F Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 4 secs; 3 C Ewan (Lotto Soudal) at 6 secs; 4 L Fortunato (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM) at 7 secs; 5 A Robredo Crespo (Burgos-BH) at 8 secs; 6 L De Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) at 9 secs