Sam Bennett takes first victory of 2019 in Argentina
‘It was good for the morale to start the season by taking a win in my first stage race’
Sam Bennett of Ireland and team Bora-Hansgrohe after winning stage seven of the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional. Photograph: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Having gone close with earlier placings of third and fourth, Sam Bennett scorched to his first victory of the season on the final day of the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional in Argentina. The Carrick-on-Suir sprinter benefitted from strong leadout work by his Bora-hansgrohe team, with triple world champion Peter Sagan amongst those setting him up inside the finale.
Bennett duly delivered, beating Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagi (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Erik Baska (Bora-hansgrohe) and the rest of the bunch to the line.
“I’m really happy. We came here looking for a stage win and it was good for the morale to start the season by taking a win in my first stage race,” said Bennett. “I just want to thank the team again - they did an awesome job.”
Bennett showed his sprinting brilliance in last year’s Giro d’Italia, where he won three stages and was arguably the fastest sprinter in the field. Elia Viviani took four in that race, largely due to work by his team to ensure Bennett was out of position and thus starting the sprint with a disadvantage. Although Viviani was not in the Vuelta a San Juan, his team tried a similar tactic to try to give their designated sprinters an edge over Bennett.
It didn’t work. “The hardest part was in the finale,” Bennett explained. “The guys were doing a perfect lead-out and I think Quick Step’s focus was on me, and they tried to hold me out in the wind really early so, in the end, I decided to hang back a bit and try and come a bit later in the sprint. I probably went a little too late, but I had enough power and managed to get the win.”
Bennett’s success means that he will return to Europe with high morale to chase further victories. March’s Milan-San Remo Classic will be one of his big targets, but he will have other opportunities before then.
Vuelta a San Juan Internacional, Argentina (2.1)
Stage 7, San Juan - San Juan: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) 141.3 kilometres in 2 hours 54 mins 26 secs; 2, A. Jose Hodeg Chagui (Deceuninck-QuickStep); 3, E. Baska (Bora-hansgrohe); 4, M. Belletti (Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec); 5, P. Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe); 6, R. Barbier (Israel Cycling Academy) all same time
Final general classification: 1, Winner Andrew Anacona (Movistar Team) 22 hours 9 mins 21 secs; 2, J. Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 35 secs; 3, O. Miguel Sevilla Rivera (Medellin) 57 secs; 4, V. Conti (UAE Team Emirates) at 1 min 3 secs; 5, F. Grossschartner (Bora-hansgrohe) at 1 min 13 secs; 6, R. Carapaz (Movistar Team) at 1 min 20 secs
Irish: 98, S. Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) at 21 mins 52 secs