By Nigel Wynn
Irish sprinter Sam Bennett (Bora Argon 18) continued his impressive season with victory in Paris-Bourges on Thursday.
Bennett won the prestigious late-season race in France after out-pacing Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) in the finale. British rider Dan McLay (Bretagne Seche Environnement) placed seventh in the 186.2-kilometre, UCI 1.1-ranked event.
It's the fifth win of 2015 for the 25-year-old Bennett, who has won two stages of Bayern-Rundfahrt, a stage of the Tour of Qatar and a stage of the Arctic Race of Norway this season.
"Coming into the finale it was pretty dangerous but the guys kept me in a good position on the last 10km. Then before the kilometre-to-go banner Shane [Archbold - Bora Argon 18 team-mate] took over," Bennett said after the win.
"From that point, he was on the front with me on his wheel. I thought it was too early but obviously he just had massive, massive power. He brought me till 250 metres. He did over a kilometre in front! And then I was able to accelerate from his wheel. It was a long sprint but it was great. I just want to thank the team for the massive support."
Bennett will now take part in Paris-Tours on Sunday, October 11, where he hopes to contest the finish and perhaps add a sixth win to his season's tally.
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"Paris-Tours might be different, and longer for sure, but the win today definitely boosts the confidence," said Bennett.
"I didn’t really know how my legs were. But I could accelerate hard and hold it. The legs are good. So hopefully we can do something on Sunday.
Bennett took part in his first Tour de France in July, and admitted that the experience was a gruelling one.
Paris-Bourges 2015: Gien to Bourges, 186.2km
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 in 4-20-57
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
4. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
5. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
6. Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) Ag2r La Mondiale
7. Daniel McLay (GBr) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
8. Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty–Groupe Gobert
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
10. Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise all same time
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