Bennett loses overall lead in Ardennes slog
Sam Bennett lost his overall lead at the BinckBank Tour yesterday on a rain-soaked stage four through the hills of the Flemish Ardennes.
After three bunch sprint finishes opened the week-long WorldTour race, yesterday's stage was one for the climbers and GC contenders as a relatively short 96km circuit race saw the peloton tackle two stiff climbs on each of three laps around Houffalize.
For the second day in a row, the stage result was decided by a photo finish, with victory going to Belgian Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal, who snatched the win on the line from Austrian youngster Marc Hirschi of Sunweb. It was Lotto-Soudal's first victory since the death of their young rider Bjorg Lambrecht at the Tour of Poland a couple of weeks ago.
"We thought long and hard about whether we would start here," said Wellens, after dedicating his stage win and race leadership to Lambrecht. "We were riding thinking about Bjorg all the time."
Bennett finished 15 minutes down, but the Carrick-on-Suir sprinter will wear the points leader's red jersey on today's relatively flat stage to Venray.