Ireland’s Sam Bennett returned to action on Wednesday and duly won stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve.
In a bunch sprint, the Tour de France green jersey winner of 2020 claimed the 55th professional win of his career.
The opening day of the Volta ao Algarve was a 189.5 kilometre stage from Lagos to Portimão. It wasn’t as straightforward as the profile suggested, however.
A number of crashes throughout the day meant a lot of riders were absent for the finale. Among them were Shane Archbold and Fabio Jakobsen, who were involved in a small incident with four kilometres remaining. Fortunately neither suffered any serious injury.
Thought the finale was very hectic, Deceuninck – Quick-Step team did their job to perfection. Bennett’s team took up the pace-setting ahead of the flamme rouge and delivered an impeccable piloting masterclass.
Ireland’s top cyclist kicked for home with 125 metres to the line when teammate Michael Mørkøv peeled off the front.
Sixth win for Bennett this season
For the sixth time this season Bennett raised his arms in celebration. He beat Danny Van Poppel (Intermarche-Wanty Gobert) and Jon Aberasturi (Caja Rural) by more than a bike length.
It was a first win for Bennett in Portugal on his first racing visit to the Volta ao Algarve.
“The legs felt good, but there were a lot of crashes and we spent a lot of energy coming back to the front and keeping our position,” explained Sam Bennett post-race.”
“I didn’t know how my condition was going to be after a month with no racing and didn’t expect it to be that hard, but I’m happy I could finish it off and I got the yellow jersey as a bonus”, the Irish cyclist added as he became the fifth different Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in six years to claim the opening stage of the race.