Sam Bennett’s excellent form this season continued on Tuesday with the Irish cyclist winning the third stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, his seventh win this year.
After two demanding stages, Tuesday’s stage was made for the sprinters, 177 kilometres from Le Puy-en-Velay to Riom with only four category four climbs awaiting the peloton.
Early in the stage, two riders launched an attack and were gone for most of the day, with the leading duo enjoying a gap of more than three minutes at one stage, with Giro d’Italia stage winner Cesare Benedetti pulling at the front of the peloton.
The gap came down to nearly one minute with 46 kilometres remaining, and with BORA – hansgrohe controlling the pace the advantage dropped steadily. With 16 kilometres to the finish, the peloton closed the gap and everything was set for a bunch sprint.
As the race headed into the closing kilometres, the sprinter teams started their lead-out, with the BORA-hansgrohe train leading their Irish sprinter Sam Bennett. His teammate Shane Archbold did a stellar job to open the sprint with 500 metres to go and launch his captain perfectly to the line. With an excellent sprint, Bennett took his seventh season win ahead of Belgian Wout Van Aert and Italian Davide Ballerini.
Speaking after his stage 3 victory, the Waterford man said:
“I am super happy to take the win today. It’s certainly not just my victory, the team rode absolutely amazing today and the support I got is what made that win look so easy! Therefore, a huge thanks to the whole team for the effort. Let’s hope the legs are still good for stage 5 in two days.”