Bennett makes statement with biggest win of his career
Ireland's Sam Bennett sprinted to the biggest victory of his fledgling professional career yesterday when he out-kicked some of the fastest men on two wheels to win the sixth and final stage of the Tour of Qatar in Doha.
With the help of his German registered Bora-Argon 18 team-mates, Bennett positioned himself perfectly in the final kilometre, switching across the road in the last 400m to latch onto the wheel of former world champion Tom Boonen of Etixx-Quickstep and then Italian fastman Andrea Guardini of Astana.
With the line approaching, Bennett held his fire for another 200m before kicking past Guardini for what looked like an easy win, with 2014 Giro d'Italia points jersey winner Nacer Bouhanni taking third.
"The guys did a fantastic job all week and today, protecting me, so it's great to reward their efforts," said a delighted Bennett after taking the first victory for the Bora squad.
"I was under a bit of pressure to get the first win early for the team to boost the morale. To get it this early in such a big race and with such big names in the mix is fantastic so I'm delighted."
The Carrick-On-Suir sprinter took fifth on stage one but missed the stage five sprint finale due to a puncture in the last kilometres but made no mistake when he finally got his chance to shine.
"In the final 3kms the guys got me up to the front and I got onto Boonen's wheel on the last corner and from then I jumped over and back from train to train. The Astana rider (Guardini) went first and when I saw that nobody was coming I knew I could wait and go late, with no stress. I'm absolutely delighted and would like to thank the team for all the hard work."
Having taken four wins in his first season as a pro last year, Bennett will have plenty more opportunities to add to this tally next week when he tackles the Tour of Oman against the same opposition.