Sam Bennett says he was "gutted to come real close without quite finishing the job" as he was beaten by Lotto-Soudal's Caleb Ewan to the stage four victory at the Tour Down Under 2020.
The Deceuninck - Quick-Step sprinter was looking to claim a second victory for his new team, having won the opening stage of the Australian stage race. However, Bennett says he "ran out of gas" after a slight uphill in the finish as well as starting his sprint too early, with Ewan tucked in behind and bursting through to cross the line first.
The Irishman also claims the real finish was different from what was in the roadbook, which seems to have affected his sprint.
"We took control at the front and were really committed, but unfortunately the final was different from what was in the roadbook and I ran out of gas once I got over that crest. But we can look on the bright side of things, which is that we were again present when it mattered and our train worked even better that on the first day. This gives us a lot of confidence," Bennett said after the race.
Victory on the opening stage has taken the pressure off for the moment as he adapts to a new lead-out train at the WorldTour season opener.
"Thanks to my Deceuninck - Quick-Step team for working so hard for me today and I am gutted to come real close without quite finishing the job, but I started my sprint a tiny bit too early. Full congratulations to Caleb Ewan."
The score between the two sprinters at the Tour Down Under now stands at 2-1 to the Australian with one sprint stage left to contest. Stage five from Glenelg to Victor Harbor will offer one last chance for the fast men before the final stage six's summit finish on Willunga Hill.
This will provide a climactic end to the GC battle, with Trek-Segafredo's Richie Porte holding a three-second advantage over defending champion Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott).
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