Bora’s Sam Bennett untouchable in Turkey with third stage win
It was a three-peat performance for Bora-Hansgrohe sprinter Sam Bennett on Thursday as the Irishman added a third straight Tour of Turkey stage win to his ever-growing palmarés.
Bennett broke free in the closing 200 metres to once again outclass Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) at the line, followed by a quintet of Italians in the Mediterranean coastal city of Marmaris.
The short, but sharp third stage of 128.6 kilometres featured the first arduous test for the current race leader, but not even concerted efforts from rivals could keep the Paris-Nice stage winner from hitting the trifecta.
However, a three-man break did its best to spoil Bennett’s party, especially young American Gregory Daniel (Trek-Segafredo), who attacked is fellow break-mates Ferit Samli (Türkiye National Team) and Thomas Deruette (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) midway through the race.
“I followed wheels and ended up in the breakaway,” said the 22-year-old from Denver, who won the US national road race title in 2016. “My director said in a crosswind section if you want to go you can try with the other guys in the breakaway to see if they want to go with you.
“So, I went and they were screaming ‘what are you doing?’,” Daniel continued. “It’s now or never… so I went for it. I don’t think they were interested, so I went on my own.”
Daniel launched his assault on the Cat. 2 climb at the 59.6km mark.
“I made it over the first climb ok,” he explained. “But then on the downhill there was a headwind the whole way, so it was really slow. By that time I was cooked,.
“I was happy to at least try and gave my team an easy ride.”
For Bennett the climb wasn’t enough to keep him from challenging the finish.
“I knew the climb was short enough that I could go deep,” Bennett told media after the stage. “I think it was a bit of a headwind. I did feel it, sure, and if it was any longer, maybe I could've popped.
“I guarantee if it was a hard Belgian race, Theuns would beat me, no problem, but at the moment it's a steady stage and I'm fresh enough at the final.”
The fourth stage from Marmaris to Selçuk (204.1km) features three categorised climbs, including a daunting Cat. 1 inside the first 35km and a Cat. 2 hilltop finish.
“I don’t think this if for me,” said Bennett, when asked about Stage 4 and his chances to keep the turquoise leader’s jersey on Friday.
Photo credit: Brian Hodes / VeloImages