Sam Bennett doubles up to keep Turkey lead
With only four WorldTour teams on the start, heavy sprint stage favourite Sam Bennett of Bora-Hansgrohe proved to be the class of the field once again with his second consecutive victory on Wednesday.
With the field averaging a snail’s pace of less than 30km/h from Kumluca, the peloton finally caught a two-man break consisting of Italian Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) and Brazilian Murilo Affonso (Funvic/Brasil Pro Cycling) with 12km to go in the 205-kilometre stage from Kumlica and eventually increase its average speed to more than 50km/h heading into the home stretch.
The Paris-Nice stage winner, who had told Eurosport prior to the hilly stage featuring a gnarly Category 2 climb he had his sights set on the day, made it look easy as he sped across the line with authority over fellow WorldTour riders Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) of Belgium and Minali Riccardo (Astana) of Italy.
“I’m really delighted,” Bennett said after the stage that took 6 hours 2 minutes 6 seconds to complete. “The guys worked super hard today. It was a long, hot day … nobody would allow us to get organised. I assumed they would look for my wheel but they were doing their own thing.
“Trying to get the leadout train to work was really difficult, so ended up trying to go for [Trek’s wheel]. Shane [Archbold], and the whole team, brought me up to Trek in the last corner,” he explained further. “In the end it was a good day.”
With the Stage 2 win in Fethiye, the 26-year-old tightens his grip ever so slightly on the turquoise leader’s jersey by six seconds to 10 seconds overall over Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), who also finished third on the opening stage in Kemer on Tuesday.
However, with the six-stage UCI road race now heading into higher elevation, the Irish sprinter is realistic of his chances to maintain his general classification lead.
“I have to look at the profile and see,” said Bennett. “We will take it day by day and see what we can do. [We’ve] got some great climbers here in the race and hopefully we can help them, but we will see how it goes.”
Photo: Brian Hodes / VeloImages