Bennett storms to maiden pro victory
Irish U-23 champion Sam Bennett took his first professional victory in Belgium yesterday when he won the GP Van de Stad in Geel for Sean Kelly's An Post team, WRITES Gerard Cromwell.
Bennett finished fifth behind Matt Brammeier at the national championships in Scotstown a fortnight ago to retain his U-23 title and continued his good run of form yesterday.
The 20-year-old Carrick-on-Suir sprinter benefited from a good lead-out by his team in the finale after team-mate Mark McNally and three breakaway companions had been reeled in with just a kilometre to go.
In the final 200m, Bennett unleashed the sprint that has already earned him comparison with team boss Kelly to take victory in the 1.2-ranked race.
"This is a huge result," said An Post team manager Kurt Bogaerts. "Sam was amazing today and the win will bring him real confidence. He has been getting stronger and stronger recently and has probably put a bit of pressure on himself, so the win will now take that weight off his shoulders. I'm delighted for him."
Bennett's victory is a timely boost ahead of his participation in the U-23 European Championships in Italy at the weekend, where he will be joined on a strong Irish team for the road race by An Post team-mate Philip Lavery and French-based trio Sean Downey, Felix English and Conor Dunne.
MAYO light-middleweight Henry 'The Western Warrior' Coyle has admitted that Italy's Elio Cotena has got pedigree ahead of their World title encounter next month.
Chicago-based Coyle returns home to face Cotena for the WBF World light-middleweight crown at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar on August 12.
The 'Royal Rumble' will also feature Dubliner Patrick 'The Punisher' Hyland, Finbarr Eade, Michael Sweeney, John Waldron and a host of local talent.
Meanwhile, Vitali Klitschko is determined to set up a heavyweight showdown with David Haye after revealing that he had been disgusted at the Londoner's taunts towards his brother Wladimir.
Haye surrendered his WBA heavyweight title in Hamburg earlier this month after being out-pointed in a largely one-sided contest.
IRELAND'S Amy Bowtell yesterday booked a qualifying second-round place in the ITF Circuit event in Woking-Foxhills, England.
No 4 seed Bowtell romped to a 6-3 6-1 victory over Britain's Grace Lola Lymer-Sullivan.
Today, the 17-year-old Greystones player takes on Britain's Laura Slater, with a place in the main draw the reward.
Antrim's Emily Madill lost 6-2 6-1 to Britain's No 7 seed Lucy Browne.
IRELAND were denied an all-too-rare chance to take on a Test-playing nation yesterday when their tri-nations clash with Sri Lanka was rained off without a ball bowled in Edinburgh.
Ireland will play Scotland today, weather permitting.
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