Irish sprinter Sam Bennett continues 2017 season success with win on stage one of the Presidential Tour of Turkey

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) lived up to his billing as the Presidential Tour of Turkey’s top sprinter, convincingly winning stage one of the race on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Irishman is enjoying a successful patch having won the Münsterland Giro in Germany a week ago, plus wins earlier in the season with a stage of Paris-Nice, two stages of the Tour of Slovenia and two in the Czech Cycling Tour.

Bennett beat Italian Marco Benfatto (Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia) in the bunch sprint in Turkey, with Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) placing third.

The stage comprised a relative flat 170km course from Alanya to Kemer. After the start, a group of six riders swiftly formed the day’s escape: Onur Balkan, Batuhan Özgür (Turkey national team), Alex Turrin (Wilier), Flavio Santos (Soul Brasil Cycling), Vincenzo Albanese and Simone Sterbini (Bardiani CSF).

They were never allowed much of a free hand, and with 70km to go the gap was down to just one minute and 45 seconds over the chasing peloton.

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Özgür was dropped from the leaders with 60km to go, as riders from Gazprom-Rusvelo, Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe were at the head of the bunch setting the pace.

It was all back together again inside the final 35km, and just before a key intermediate sprint. Overall contender Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) signalled his intentions in the race by contesting the intermediate sprint, placing second behind Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) and grabbing valuable bonus seconds.

A crash in the final few kilometres brought down a number of riders at the roadside, collapsing several banners, although there were no serious injuries reported.

Bennett benefitted from a solid lead-out from his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate Shane Archbold, opening up his sprint into the final few hundred metres and never really looking challenged.

Bennett leads the six-day race going into Wednesday’s stage two, from Kumlica to Fethiye. The race concludes on Sunday, October 15, with a stage starting and finishing in Istanbul.

The Tour of Turkey was elevated to WorldTour status for 2017, but has failed to attract more that four WorldTour teams this season.

Result

Presidential Tour of Turkey 2017, stage one: Alanya to Kemer, 170km
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe in 3-57-26
2. Marco Benfatto (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia
3. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4. Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Niklay Trisov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
7. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Shane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia
10. Michal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice, all same time

General classification after stage one
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
2. Marco Benfatto (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia, at 4 secs
3. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 6 secs