Sam Bennett stays ahead of the pack in Turkey

Sprinter finishes stage in second place to retain overall lead

Sam Bennett successfully defended his overall lead on Thursday's third stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey, clocking up another strong finish in taking second place.

The Carrick-on-Suir rider finished just behind the Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at the end of the 122.6 kilometre stage to Edremit. Jakobsen's team led out the sprint and while Bennett tried to get past, his rival had too much pace on this occasion. Multiple Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) showed signs of improving form in taking third.

Bennett has extended his overall lead slightly. He is now 20 seconds ahead of his Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Felix Grossschartner, with Jhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Manzana Postobon) third, 22 seconds in arrears. Bennett remains at the top of the points classification with 44 points, 15 more than Jakobsen.

“The finale was a bit chaotic, but also hard and tricky due to the headwind,” said Bennett. “The guys did a really good job today. I am sorry that I couldn’t finish it off, but Deceuninck-QuickStep was stronger today.


“Of course, a win would have been great, but I just hadn’t the legs in today’s finale. But I will try it again tomorrow.”

Friday’s stage covers 194 kilometres from Balikesir to Bursa and concludes with a 2.7 kilometre climb. This averages 4.25 per cent in gradient, shorter but steeper than the climb where Bennett won his second stage on Wednesday. Saturday’s stage is a far tougher finish but Sunday’s finale in Istanbul should be well-suited to his characteristics.

In other news, this weekend will see some high-quality racing around the country. The Kerry Group Rás Mumhan was in previous years one of the biggest build-up events for the Rás Tailteann but with that event not taking place this year, the Rás Mumhan will assume an even greater importance.

Action gets underway on Friday with a 100 kilometre stage starting and finishing in Killorglin. Stage two is 30km longer and will tackle eight climbs en route to the finish in Athea, while Sunday’s 155km third stage includes the category one climb of Coom an Easpaigh heading towards Waterville.

The race concludes with a flatter 115km stage based around Killorglin and Beaufort. The line-up will include defending champion Conor Hennebry plus other past winners such as Damien Shaw and Mark Dowling. There will be a host of other strong Irish riders plus seven UK teams, ensuring competitive racing over the four days.

Elsewhere, the Tour of the North and the Gorey Three Day both start on Saturday and run until Monday. The former includes eight overseas teams and rolls out from Galgorm, with the drop of the flag nearby. The latter begins in Blessington and heads to Gorey on day one.

Presidential Tour of Turkey results

Stage 3, Çanakkale to Edremit: 1, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 122.6 kilometres in 2 hours 50 mins 12 secs ; 2, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) ; 3, M. Cavendish (Dimension Data) ; 4, C. Ewan (Lotto Soudal) ; 5, C. Noppe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) ; 6, M. Malucelli (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) all same time

General classification: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 11 hours 4 mins 8 secs ; 2, F. Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 20 secs ; 3, J. Restrepo Valencia (Manzana Postobon) at 22 secs ; 4, J. Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) at 26 secs ; 5, G. Serrano Rodriguez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) ; 6, V. Conti (UAE Team Emirates) both same time

Points classification: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 44 points ; 2, F. Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 29 ; 3, C. Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 25

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling