Ireland’s Sam Bennett described his victory in today’s final Tour of Qatar stage as the biggest of his fledgling career to date.
The 24-year-old Bora-Argon 18 rider comfortably got the better of Astana’s Andrea Guardini, a former winner on the Doha Corniche where this afternoon’s race culminated, Nacer Bouhanni and Peter Sagan.
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“I think so,” said Bennett when asked if this victory tops the likes of those from last year’s Bayern-Rundfahrt or the 2013 Tour of Britain. “There are a lot of riders who would be in the Tour de France in this race. It’s really competitive here.
“It was hectic. However, the lads looked after me today, as they have done all week, and they got me into a really good position before the last corner.
Irish sprinter Sam Bennett takes final stage victory as Niki Terpstra seals overall win in 2015 Tour of Qatar. Photos
“It was so strung out, but I got on the right wheel. The Astana rider [Guardini] went early, which was perfect, and I was able to go whenever I wanted because nobody else was coming up.”
The Belgian-born rider has never won so early in a season before, but having placed fourth in the sprinter-friendly Trofeo Playa de Palma on February 1, Bennett admitted he was putting himself under pressure to open his 2015 victory count.
He added: “It’s good for morale. I put pressure on myself, I set out a number of wins for the season, and I have targets I want to achieve by certain points of the season.
“It’s come a bit late for my first win!”
He will next compete in the six-day Tour of Oman, which starts on Tuesday.