Sam Bennett sprints to second in stage two of the UAE Tour

Irish rider says he ‘did everything that was possible’ after being pipped by Caleb Ewan

Sam Bennett (R) was pipped by Australian rider Caleb Ewan (L) in stage two of the UAE Tour. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

Sam Bennett (R) was pipped by Australian rider Caleb Ewan (L) in stage two of the UAE Tour. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

 

Sam Bennett put in a powerful showing on Monday’s stage two of the UAE Tour in the United Arab Emirates, netting second in the race to the top of Hatta Dam in Dubai. Bennett was part of the main bunch which hit the bottom of the climb together, and launched his sprint early to try to beat the other sprinters.

However Australian rider Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) was able to hold his wheel and came around Bennett close to the line, beating him by two seconds. The Irish road race champion finished as runner-up, with Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and the next riders a further two seconds back. Eddie Dunbar was in this group, placing 30th.

The result was Bennett’s fifth podium finish so far this season. He said afterwards that he made a mistake in the sprint, although it seems unlikely he would have beaten Ewan.

“I don’t know what I did in the last 50m, but I checked right and I rode into the barrier for a split second and that gave Caleb a bike length,” Bennett said. “I kicked again and did a good effort, but I couldn’t come back. I did everything that was possible today and even though I’m not satisfied with the result, I look on the bright side of things, and that’s the legs I had on this hard climb.”

Ewan leads Bennett overall by 12 seconds, with Démare sitting third. Dunbar is 20 seconds back in 32nd, but looks set to move up the general classification when the race hits the much harder Jebel Hafeet climb at the end of Tuesday’s stage. Dunbar is targeting a high overall finish in the race.

Bennett will have another change to go for a stage win on Wednesday’s fourth stage, which ends on Dubai City Walk.

The WorldTour race runs until Saturday.

UAE Tour: Stage 2 - Hatta to Hatta Dam: 1, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 168 kilometres in 4 hours 18 mins 18 secs; 2, S. Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 2 secs; 3, A. Démare (Groupama-FDJ) at 4 secs; 4, D. Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates); 5, R. Zabel (Israel Start-Up Nation) both same time

Other Irish: 30, E. Dunbar (Team Ineos) same time

General classification after stage 2: 1, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 7 hours 47 mins 19 secs; 2, S. Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 12 secs; 3, A. Démare (Groupama-FDJ) at 16 secs; 4, N. Cherkasov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) at 17 secs; 5, A. Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) at 19 secs

Other Irish: 32, E. Dunbar (Team Ineos) at 20 secs

Points classification: 1, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 36 points; 2, V. Stojnic (Vini Zabu-KTM) 29; 3, L. Tortomasi (Vini Zabu-KTM) 21

Irish: 5, S. Bennett (Deceunink-QuickStep) 16

Best young rider: 1, Nikolai Cherkasov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) 7 hours 47 mins 36 secs; 2, D. Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) at 3 secs; 3, T. Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) same time

Irish: 6, E. Dunbar (Team Ineos) same time

Irish squad for UCI track world championships, February 26th to March 1st:

Men’s Madison: Mark Downey, Felix English. Women’s Madison: Lydia Boylan, Lydia Gurley. Women’s Omnium: Lydia Boylan. Women’s Team Pursuit: Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy, Alice Sharpe, Lara Gillespie. Men’s Scratch Race: Felix English. Women’s Scratch Race: Lydia Gurley. Women’s Individual Pursuit: Kelly Murphy. Women’s Points Race: Alice Sharpe. Men’s Points Race: Mark Downey.

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