Ireland’s Sam Bennett won the final stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, snatching victory at the line.
After a hectic final stage where the breakaway was barely allowed a minute’s advantage, it all came down to the final 10km on the San Juan City circuit. With the pace ramped up high, the BORA-hansgrohe sprint train came to life to protect Sam Bennett and bring him to the line.
“I’m really happy”, Bennett admitted, “We came here looking for a stage win and it was good for the morale to start the season by taking a win in my first stage race. I just want to thank the team again – they did an awesome job. The hardest part was in the finale.”
The Irish rider said his sprint may not have been perfectly timed, but at least he got there:
“In the end, I decided to hang back a bit and try and come a bit later in the sprint. I probably went a little too late, but I had enough power and managed to get the win. Still, the last 300m were definitely the most difficult part for me. The crowds were like something you see at the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia – great atmosphere – they were really amazing.”
With Erik Baška and Peter Sagan on lead-out duty, the Irish rider surged ahead to take the Vuelta a San Juan’s final stage with a commanding effort that saw him finish a bike length ahead of second place, with Bennett’s team, BORA-hansgrohe, had three riders in the stage’s top five.
The Vuelta a San Juan finished in San Juan City with a circular nine-lap street circuit, totalling 141.3km. Each 16km lap of the route brought the riders closer to the end of what had been a thrilling race.
When the race hitting the 100km to go point, there was still no break in sight, and it was only with 75km to go that something finally stuck. A group of five built a lead of a minute, but the peloton brought them back in to within thirty seconds.
This group was working together well and the bunch was held at bay until the final 20km, when the bunch jumped into action and started pushing and easily swept up the lead group before ramping up the pace for the finale.
While there were plenty attacks in the final 5km, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were vigilant on the front with Poljański, Baška and Sagan keeping the pace high for Sam Bennett. Coming out of nowhere when it looked like the race was over, Sam streaked ahead and decisively snatched the victory.
01 S.Bennett 2h54’26”
02 A.Hodeg + 0:00
03 E.Baška + 0:00
04 M.Belletti + 0:00
05 P.Sagan + 0:00