Bennett rises to uphill challenge in seizing more Turkey glory
Sam Bennett sprinted to a second consecutive stage victory at the Tour of Turkey yesterday when he claimed stage two of this year's race on a hilltop finish in Eceabat.
Having taken Tuesday's opening stage in a mass bunch sprint, Bennett told the Irish Independent that he didn't expect to contest yesterday's tougher uphill gallop to the line after a break from racing left him feeling below peak form.
If anything though, the Carrick-on-Suir man looked more impressive yesterday and had plenty of time to throw his hands in the air as his team-mate Felix Grossschartner took second ahead of Colombian Jhonatan Restrepo (Manzana Postobon).
Once again Bennett's Bora Hansgrohe team contributed heavily to the victory, setting a tempo on the final climb that saw off most of his sprint rivals before launching former Rás Tailteann winner Lukas Postlberger off the front with 2km to go and forcing other teams to chase as Bennett waited in the wheels to pounce at the top.
"That was much harder than yesterday," a delighted Bennett told the Irish Independent afterwards.
"The team had planned to stay with me and support me today but I wasn't that confident in winning beforehand.
"I thought I might get dropped on the hill, so I told them to just race the climb themselves and if I was there in the end I'd let them know."
When Postlberger attacked, Bennett waited in the hope the Austrian could take stage victory himself before launching his sprint.
"When 'Posti' was in front I was waiting because I know how strong he is but there was a lot of shuffling going on behind him and I knew that if he was brought back there was a big possibility I'd get boxed in and I was afraid Caleb Ewan or somebody would come from behind at speed, so the moment I saw Posti's pace drop I went."
With Postlberger dying in the last few hundred metres of the hill, Bennett launched his sprint and eased to victory with a couple of lengths to spare over another team-mate, Grossschartner.
"I didn't expect to be so strong to be honest and to get first and second is awesome. The team were brilliant again today," Bennett said.
A 10-second time bonus for the win now sees Bennett lead the race by 14 seconds over Grossschartner with four stages of the WorldTour race to go.
- Tour of Turkey, Live Eurosport, 11.0am