Stickybottle

Sam Bennett rues QuickStep numbers but strikes hopeful tone

Posted on: October 9th, 2018

Bora-hansgrohe worked for most of the day for Sam Bennett in Turkey. But the final lead-out was found wanting. And Bennett was undone by QuickStep’s superior numbers on the front into the last corner.

 

A QuickStep mugging on the last corner may have robbed Sam Bennett of a stage 1 victory at the Tour of Turkey, but the Irishman and his team are upbeat.

With five stages remaining, four may come down to bunch sprints. And on the evidence of today Bennett is definitely fancied to add to his tally of wins before the race is done.

With a tricky right hander with about 600 metres to go today, Bennett was fourth in line behind three QuickStep riders.

However, the road surface was patchy and one of the riders ahead of Bennett almost came a cropper.

Maximiliano Richeze was lead man into the bend for QuickStep. A combination of his speed into the corner and one of his team mate’s suffering a wobble saw the Argentine get a gap.

When his team mates saw the daylight open to the lead-out man as he went clear, they stalled to let him go.

Bennett also held fire and it wasn’t until Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing) opened his sprint that the gallop began. But by that time the leader was away and won, with Bennett coming in for 2nd place.

The other drama of the day came with just under 4km to go when Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep) crashed. He rubbed a wheel and came down heavily.

The Colombian went on to finish the stage. But he has since been diagnosed with a broken collarbone and he is out of the race.

That means one of the really fast men is now absent. But QuickStep has another Colombian sprinter, Álvaro José Hodeg (22),  in its line-up.

And while the team’s 35-yearr-old lead-out rider took a win today, the sprint match now looks to be between Hodeg and Bennett.

Furthermore, Drucker and perhaps John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) may also be in the reckoning for the bunch sprints to come.

 

Sam Bennett’s team shared the work with QuickStep in bringing back the escape. But it was the Belgian WorldTour team that dominated the finale and its lead-out was strongest.

 

Bennett’s Bora-hansgrohe team had worked for him during the stage in controlling the early escape. And they also positioned him well coming near to the finish.

But when it really mattered in the last kilometre they got swamped and fell away, leaving QuickStep to dominate at the front.

Despite losing out for want of one hard turn from a team mate when Richeze went clear, Sam Bennett and his team said they were hopeful for more in the days to come.

“The last corner I knew I was going in too hot so I backed off,” Bennett said after the stage end.

“I could see the guys in front of me and I wanted to get around the two QuickStep guys at the front and eventually I went around them.

“Then at the same moment BMC came by. So I got in their slipstream. But I eased my effort because I knew even if I got round Richeze; I wasn’t going to hold off the other QuickStep rider on my wheel.

“I was in a good position but I knew we still have five more stages. So I didn’t want to take any more risks in this tricky finale.

“The guys did a great job the whole day and, in the finale, I did the best I could. But QuickStep had the faster legs today. There’s still five stages left and I’ll try my best.”

Enrico Poitschke, Bennett’s sports director in Turkey, echoed the Irish rider’s view of the danger posed by the last corners on today’s 150km stage.

“Sam was in a promising position. He stayed on the wheels of some QuickStep riders,” he said. “But on the last corner, some slipped away. Therefore Sam lost some positions as well.

“A second place is a great result. But of course we wanted to go for the victory. Nevertheless, the guys showed a strong performance; Juraj, Maciej and Lukas rode a strong race.

“(The) boys took control over the race. Tomorrow will be another stage and we will try our best again.”

 

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