Sam Bennett took stage four of the 2021 UAE Tour by around a bike length over second place David Dekker in the Irishman’s first hit out in a bunch sprint this season.
Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) also took his 50th career win with the stage victory on the Al Marjan island after the longest stage of the race at over 200km of pan flat stage.
After the stage Bennett said: “I was a little frustrated missing the sprint on the first stage and I knew there were only three more opportunities, so I was really motivated today.
“At the same time, I was pretty nervous, because it was the first bunch sprint of the season for myself and you never know what’s your condition coming out of the winter.”
As usual, Michael Mørkøv guided the Tour de France 2020 green jersey winner to about 200 metres to go before the Irishman chose to dive down the left hand side, which turned out to be the fastest line.
“Having the team do such a great job you just want to bring the victory. I knew all I had to do was follow the guys, who made my job easier, and with my legs good in the end I was able to do the sprint I wanted.
“It was a messy finale, but I made it thanks to this amazing Wolfpack, who controlled the stage and then delivered me in the perfect position. I am proud to score my 50th victory here. It was a long, hot stage, but it now feels great to get the first bunch sprint of the year out of the way. It’s a perfect way to start the season.”
Bennett has taken some huge victories during his career including eight Grand Tour stage wins and nine Tour of Turkey stage wins as well as 33 further wins.
In a post-stage interview, Bennett said: “It feels good to win my first sprint of the season. I had to wait for a few days to get this opportunity. I was really nervous before the sprint because it was the first fast bunch finish of the year for me. I followed my guys who did a fantastic job.
“My lead out went to the right, which was the shortest way to the line, but I chose the long way to the left, as I felt I had enough speed. I think today is my 50th professional win. It’s very nice to take that one.”