Stickybottle

Sam Bennett 2kg heavier but plans to dig deep on Turkey climbs

Posted on: October 11th, 2018

Sam Bennett has won two stages and is hoping for more in Turkey. And he says that might involve limiting his losses on the climbs to still be in contention overall. He’s won two of the three stages so far and leads the Tour of Turkey overall. Bennett also holds the lead in the points classification (All photos by VeloImages)

 

A sprinter who can climb much better than the other fast men in pro cycling, Sam Bennett is not ruling himself out of the general classification at the Tour of Turkey.

There is an uphill finish on Thursday’s stage 4, meaning Bennett’s chances of repeating his wins of the past two days are limited.

But he said he leads the race and has some time in hand. And if he could limit his losses he may still be in contention. He intends to have a go at doing just that.

If he could keep any time loss to a minimum, there are also time bonuses up for grabs on Saturday and Sunday.

The Carrick-on-Suir man came through two climbs on today’s third stage. And when the race was decided in a sprint from a reduced bunch, he took victory.

It was his second win in two days and he was also 2nd on Tuesday’s opening stage. Those results mean Bennett leads the race by 10 seconds from stage 1 winner Maximiliano Richeze (QuickStep).

The Argentine was 2nd to Bennett today. And the man who was 3rd, John Degenkolb, is also 3rd overall. The German is a not insignificant 22 seconds off the race lead.

The men who are placed 2nd to 7th overall at present have all collected time bonuses. In 8th us Ivan Garcia (Bahrain Merida).

And he is 26 seconds down; on equal time with 56 other riders. They are the men who have finished in the bunch on each of the last three stages and picked up no time bonuses.

 

 

It means the better climbers in the field are all 26 seconds down on Bennett. And if the Irish rider could keep his losses to 30-40 seconds tomorrow he would have a great chance overall.

He not only leads the race now but also leads the points classification. However, Bennett said staying in contention will be hard.

“I came here to win. I don’t mean it to sound arrogant but I have high expectations of what I can achieve. And I want more stages,” he said.

“Looking at tomorrow I probably can’t win. But it isn’t a particularly long climb at the end. It is quite short one.

“And I already have a few seconds on a few of the GC guys. So maybe I can afford to lose a little bit of time and be up there still for the overall.

“I will have to talk to the team and see what the plan is because we have a few options for the GC and I can’t be too greedy.”

He praised his Bora-hansgrohe team mates, saying they really rallied around him on the climbs. And that made his latest win possible.

“I didn’t actually feel too good on the two climbs,” he said of today’s stage; some 137.2km from Fethiye to Marmaris.

“But the team kept me protected and I was in a really good position on the way up. I wasn’t hurting too much in the climb because of the team.

“And it was only really the last 500 metres at the top that I had to push on. There was a headwind on that last section which made it a bit tougher.”

Bennett said he was hoping more riders would be dropped on the last climb; some 3km on a main road crested 10km from the finish.

“The descent was quite long so it allowed them to jump back on,” he said of many of those were distanced.

“I remember the final straight not being quite as long last time. But this year I think it was about 4km.

“I managed to sit in and stayed near Trek-Segafredo and Quick-Step. And then in the last 500 metres I was just watching the wheels.

“When we got to around 300 metres I saw a little hesitation from the QuickStep guys at the front.

“And then at 200 metres I just went round that bend and accelerated. I looked up at 100 metres and just held my speed.

“And thankfully I had good legs and knew I was going to make it,” he added of his second stage win and his sixth here in two years.

“I am nearly 2kg heavier this year but I feel stronger,” he said. “The training has really helped me and I feel like I’ve just got more power in the finish.

“In the last kilometre QuickStep changed their approach to try and challenge my speed. But I felt really good today.”

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