Sam Bennett takes opening stage in Tour of Turkey
Irish rider avoids late crash before timing sprint finish to perfection on Tuesday
Sam Benett won the opening stage of the Tour of Turkey on Tuesday. Photograph: Ciaran Fallon/Inpho
Sam Bennett followed up last week’s victory at the Sparkassen Munsterland Giro with another win, taking stage one of the Presidential Tour of Turkey on Tuesday. The Bora-hansgrohe sprinter received a strong leadout from teammate Shane Archbold and then launched his surge, crossing the line ahead of the Italian Marco Benfatto (Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia) and the Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo).
“I didn’t expect people to be afraid of me,” said Bennett about his status as favourite. “I thought, if we slow up, they’ll slow up. But they didn’t. I felt pressure to come up with a result in the final two kilometres. My legs felt a bit jelly because of it, but in the end, it worked really well.
“It’s great to be favourite in the sprints. It’s a new experience. That is, I’ve had it before but never in the WorldTour, so I think I learned a lot today about timing and taking control of where I want to go.”
The success is Bennett’s seventh of the season and marks him out as the man to beat in the remaining flat stages in the race. He will wear the leader’s jersey into Wednesday’s second stage.
Presidential Tour of Turkey:
Stage 1, Alanya to Kemer: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora - Hansgrohe) 170 kilometres in 3 hours 57 mins 26 secs; 2, M. Benfatto (Androni - Sidermec - Bottecchia); 3, E. Theuns (Trek - Segafredo); 4, F. Zurlo (Uae Team Emirates); 5, M. Pelucchi (Bora - Hansgrohe); 6, R. Minali (Astana Pro Team
General classification after stage 1: 1, Sam Bennett (Bora - Hansgrohe) 3 hours 57 mins 16 secs; 2, M. Benfatto (Androni - Sidermec - Bottecchia) at 4 secs; 3, E. Theuns (Trek - Segafredo) at 6 secs; 4, V. Albanese (Bardiani Csf) at 7 secs; 5, F. Gavazzi (Androni - Sidermec - Bottecchia); 6, D. Ulissi (Uae Team Emirates) at 8 secs