Sam Bennett was untouchable on stage two of the BinckBank Tour to win his second stage of the race.
A six-rider breakaway failed to capitalise on winding route near the Belgian coast, setting up another bunch dash for the line.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
Irish national champion Bennett was patient on the final straight as Jumbo-Visma misjudged the distance to the line, and Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) launched his move first.
Despite a valiant effort from Philipsen, Bennett use his slipsteam to easily soar past, even having time to glance over his shoulder at the Belgian before crossing the line.
Philipsen took second while Groenewegen started his sprint late and was unable to match Bennett’s speed, with the Dutchman forced to settle for a disappointing third place.
Bennett extends his overall race lead by making it two wins out of two.
How it happened
Stage two of the BinckBank Tour was another chance for the sprinters to shine, on a flat run from Blankenberge on the Belgian North Sea coast and heading south to Ardooie over a characteristically winding 169.1km.
The course features a very short cobbled sector 80km into the day and five other cobbled stretches in the closing half, but not enough to split the race.
A six-rider breakaway broke clear in the opening 20km and were allowed a fair amount of leeway by the peloton, with the gap at 2-30 early in the stage.
Josef Černy (CCC Team), Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-Scott), Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles), Thomas Sprengers (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Damien Gaudin (Total-Direct Energie) were the riders setting the pace out front, but they were only able to extend their gap to 2-50 with 100km left to the finish.
A bad crash marred the opening half of the race, with Jumbo-Visma’s Maarten Wynants and Team Ineos rider Chris Lawless forced to abandon.
Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck – Quick-Step were active in the chase, while Bora-Hansgrohe also continued to put in effort for race leader Sam Bennett.
The peloton then began to make gains on the break, with the gap slipping to one minute with 28km to go.
Quick-Step’s Ždenek Štybar launched an attack just inside 10km but was he was caught within the next 2km, as the gap to the escapees extended from 15 to 17 seconds.
The protagonists were finally caught with 5km to race, setting up the bunch sprint.
Jumbo-Visma were most aggressive on the run to the line, but it was Lotto-Soudal who led into the final kilometre.
But Jumbo’s Mike Teunissen hit the front into the final turn, but the Dutch team had misjudged the distance and Teunissen slowed dramatically, leaving Groenewegen stranded as Philipsen launched 150m from the line.
Bennett followed with Groenewegen on his wheel, but the Dutchman had already missed his moment and couldn’t get up to speed.
At 50m Bennett easily passed Philipsen, looking over his shoulder before raising his hand to mark his second win of the race, extending his overall lead to 12 seconds thanks to time bonuses. Philipsen held second with Groenewegen missing out again to finish third.
BinckBank Tour 2019, stage two: Blankenberge to Ardooie (169.1km)
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora Hansgrohe, in 3-45-20
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
4. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Ineos
5. Álvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
8. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama, FDJ
10. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Gobert, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 7-27-57
2. Łukasz Wiśniowski (Pol) CCC Team, at 12 seconds
3. Josef Černy (Cze) CCC Team, at 14s
4. Lars Bak (Den) Dimension Data
5. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
6. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
7. Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, all at same time
8. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 16s
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
10. Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, at 17s