Unexpected victory puts Bennett in pole position
Sam Bennett took over where he left off last year when he won the opening stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey in Tekirdag yesterday, writes Gerard Cromwell.
Bennett, who has seven previous stage wins in the WorldTour race to his name, including victory in last year's final stage, timed his sprint perfectly yesterday to snatch victory ahead of recent Scheldeprijs winner Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and Lotto-Soudal's Caleb Ewan, despite a short break from racing after a strong early-season campaign.
"I took 10 days off the bike after Milan-San-Remo and my form dropped quite a bit so I didn't expect to get the win today," Bennett told the Irish Independent afterwards.
"It's on the way back up but it's not quite there yet and Jakobsen won last week and is going very well so it was a bit of a surprise.
"The team gathered around me with 2km to go and they did a fantastic job to get me to the front in the finale and then I was able to come off the wheels, so I'm happy."
Bennett's Bora-Hansgrohe squad placed him perfectly in the final kilometre before he latched on to the Quickstep lead-out train in the final few hundred metres and pounced from there.
The Carrick-on-Suir sprinter now leads the points competition and race overall, although he's unsure about retaining the leader's jersey on today's uphill finish in Eceabat.
"Today was more about experience in the sprint but if I have to pull myself uphill to the sprint it could be a different story. I don't know, sometimes after a break you find yourself there with good legs so we'll try," he said.