Sam Bennett returned to racing with victory in the opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve.
The Irishman, who will look to defend his green jersey in the Tour de France later this summer, came into the five-stage race as one of the likeliest to win the sprint stages. But, after his recent break from racing, Bennett would have had doubts about his conditioning. And that fitness was put very much to the test when a couple of crashes caused disruption towards the conclusion of the 189.5km stage.
Bennett’s Deceuninck – Quick-Step team-mates, some of whom were caught up in the crashes, worked hard to get back onto the front ahead of a technical run-in, and produced a fine lead-out to set the 30-year-old up for the sprint.
Volta ao Algarve
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Bennett shows his class with stage win on return to racing

And nobody had an answer to Bennett’s power, with Danny van Poppel finishing a distant second across the line in Portimao.
“I was on the limit today,” revealed Bennett after his win.
I didn’t know how the legs were going to be coming into this race after a short break. But the team did an incredible job, even when they came down in the crashes, they adapted to the situation and did an incredible job.
“I just needed to stay alert, try and stay upright and put trust in my teammates. It was hard in the end but I managed to pull it off.
“I didn’t have much training done for this race and I have a lot of work to do after the sensations I had today. But it’s a boost of confidence to finish the job off.”
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Bennett: I was on the limit but the team did a great job

Volta ao Algarve
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Volta ao Algarve
Rodrigues wins Volta ao Algarve as Gesbert wins Stage 5
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