Bennett extends Turkish lead with second stage win
Ireland's Sam Bennett retained his overall lead at the Tour of Turkey in the best possible fashion yesterday when he took a second consecutive victory in the WorldTour race at the end of stage three in Marmaris.
With an early seven-man escape group reeled in, Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team kept their sprinter in contention on the final climb of the day as rival fastman Alvaro Hodeg of Quick-Step was dropped.
"I didn't actually feel too good on the two climbs but the team kept me protected and I was in a really good position on the way up," said Bennett.
"I wasn't hurting too much on the final climb because of the team and it was only really the last 500 metres at the top that I had to push on and there was a headwind on that last section which made it a bit tougher."
After a flurry of attacks, including one from compatriot Nicolas Roche, a group of around 30 riders went clear over the top, with a few more regaining contact on the descent to the finish.
"It was unfortunate because we thought we may have got rid of a few rivals on the way up but the descent was quite long so it allowed them to jump back on," said Bennett. "The descent was pretty fast. It was a hard fight for the wheels then, but my guys did a great job and looked after me all day."
Bennett's Bora-hansgrohe team-mates led him into the final kilometre before the Carrick-on-Suir sprinter unleashed his gallop for the line, taking victory ahead of stage one winner Max Richeze (Quick-Step) and Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb (Trek Segafredo).
"In the last 500 metres I was just watching the wheels and when we got to around 250 metres to go I saw a little hesitation from the Quick-Step guys at the front and then I just went round that last bend and accelerated. At that moment I thought, 'Maybe I've gone too long here', but I was able to hold onto it so I'm delighted."
Bennett's second victory saw him extend his overall lead to 10 seconds over Richeze, with Degenkolb and Jempy Drucker (BMC) third and fourth respectively at 22 seconds.
Today's fourth stage sees an uphill finish that may shake up the overall classification.