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Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) continued his 100 per cent success rate in the 2017 Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey on Thursday, winning his third consecutive stage.
The 26-year-old Irishman won stage three in Marmaris with another convincing performance in the bunch sprint, finishing clear of all his rivals to extend his overall race lead.
Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) placed second, with Italian Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) in third.
Many thought that a tough climb positioned just before the finish would rule Bennett out of the bunch sprint, and play into the hands of Theuns. In the event, Bennett looked comfortable navigating the climb and had energy to spare to dominate the sprint.
How it happened
At the start of the stage, Gregory Daniel (Trek-Segafredo) and Ferit Can Samlı (Turkish national team) attacked first and were later joined in the lead by Thomas Deruette (WB Veranclassic). The trio had built up a lead of over three minutes after 10km.
Lincoln Silva (Soul Brasil Cycling) attempted to bridge over, but became trapped in no-man’s land as he could not catch the three riders up front. He was swept up by the bunch just ahead of the day’s first major climb.
The trio continued to navigate the short 128.6km stage as Bennett’s Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates set the pace of the peloton.
Inside the final 50km the leader’s advantage started to tumble and the group broke apart, subsequently Daniel was left out front solo as Samlı and Deruette were caught by the bunch with 23km to go.
Daniel’s slim minute lead over the bunch was chipped away as he tired, and he was caught with 10km to go before the key final climb.
Several fruitless attacks were fired off from the bunch on the ascent, but the peloton stayed together to set up a bunch sprint. Trek-Segafredo once again looked aggressive in the finale, with American Kiel Reijnen having a dig to try and spoil Bennett’s momentum.
However, no-one was going to steal Bennett’s crown as the sprinter of the 2017 race, and he looked in a class of his own to take the victory.
Bennett now leads Theuns by 14 seconds overall, and Consonni moves up to third overall at 26 seconds with three stages remaining.
The 2017 Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey continues on Friday with stage four, featuring the race’s first summit finish in Selçuk after a long 205.3km route.
It’s a day for the climbers, and it is expected that Bennett will lose his grasp on the overall lead. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) has made an effort on the flat stages to gain a few bonus seconds in intermediate sprints, and sits in fifth place overall at 29 seconds. Can the Italian take the lead on Friday?
Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey 2017, stage three: Fethiye to Marmaris, 128.6km
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-25-26
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
3. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Wilier Triestinia-Selle Italia
5. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia
6. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni-Sidermec-Bottechia
7. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSF
8. Eduard Prades (Esp) Caja Rural Seguros RGA
10. Ahmet Örken (Tur) Turkey National Team, all same time
General classification after stage three
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 13-24-28
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 14 secs
3. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 26 secs
4. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSF, at 29 secs
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 29 secs