Riom (France) (AFP) – Irish speed king Sam Bennett left rival sprinters reeling on Tuesday, timing his mass bunch sprint effort to perfection to win the pancake flat 171km third stage of the Criterium du Dauphine by a clear margin.
The 28-year-old Bora-hangrohe sprinter has been on sparkling form this season picking up seven stage victories including two at Paris-Nice and making his case for inclusion in the Tour de France team.
Ahead of a challenging individual time-trial which will reset the agenda on Wednesday, Tuesday’s race is the only flat one on the eight-day Criterium, which is seen as a form gauge for July’s Tour de France.
The Eritrean rider Natnael Berhane and Frenchman Quentin Pacher led a long breakaway through the rolling green fields around the Put-de-Dome region but were caught up with around five kilometres to go.
That set up a classic mass bunch sprint where Bennett came out ahead of Belgian Wout Van Aert and the Italian Davide Ballerini.