Sam Bennett wins Rund um Köln

Sam Bennett winning Rund um Köln in Germany today © BORA - hansgrohe / Bettiniphoto

In a gripping sprint finish on the streets of the inner city of Cologne, Sam Bennett kept his rivals at bay to win the oldest German road race on the calendar. As expected, it all ended in a bunch sprint with the Irish rider emerging victorious ahead of Estonian Mihkel Raim and Marcel Kittel of Germany.

The one-day race Rund um Köln, in its 102nd year, traversed through the metropolitan area on the river Rhine and its surroundings, with it starting and finishing in the Cologne Rheinauhafen.

A race of 207.7km, it made for a demanding day in the saddle, with the peloton having to not only deal with several tight corners, but also tackle many fast descents, while there were also some climbs to contend with, especially in the beginning and middle sections of the route.

Although BORA – hansgrohe came to the race without the defending champion, Gregor Mühlberger, in its ranks, the team brought with it Bennett, who was victorious in Cologne in 2014. The Irish cyclist, who won three stages of the recent Giro d’Italia, is in good form and was counted among the favourites to claim the honours. BORA – hansgrohe plan was to protect Bennett and to try to bring him to the finishing stretch in an optimal position from which to launch his sprint.

Initial attempts to form the break of the day remained in vain and were quickly reeled back in by the peloton. After about 15km of racing, seven riders were able to distance themselves from the main field and solidified a lead of more than 4 minutes on the bunch.

On the first climb of the day, which appeared 55km into the race, some riders in the peloton already found themselves in difficulty on the 27 per cent steep slopes of the Agathaberg. Shortly thereafter, a few riders attempted to set chase after the breakaway to bridge the gap, however their endeavours were ultimately in vain.

During the second half of the course, the peloton upped the pressure and under an increased tempo, the advantage of the break began to be whittled away. Although they worked well together, the leading seven riders were unable to remain clear of the peloton and were caught with 50km to the finish line, mainly due to the tempo set by Bennett’s BORA – hansgrohe team.

As a result of the strong pace being set, the peloton split into three groups, before everyone came together again and the riders travelling towards the inner city of Cologne in one main group.

The teams that were tipped to have a good chance of taking the win, BORA – hansgrohe and Katusha Alpecin, led the peloton onto the circuit in a high-paced finish and attempted to negate any attacks on the last laps. In a fast finish, Sam Bennett opened up an impressive sprint and took the honours on the line ahead of Mihkel Raim and Marcel Kittel.

Result

  1. S. Bennett      04:53:17
  2. M. Raim           +0:00
  3. M. Kittel           +0:00
  4. S. Sajnok         +0:00

Commenting on his win today, Sam Bennett, acknowledged the team effort in achieving this success:

“It was a tough almost 208km-long race, but the guys did an unbelievable job. They controlled the race the whole day. We planned to make the race as hard as possible for sprinters such as Marcel Kittel, and the guys executed our plan perfectly. In the finale, my leadout was seamless and the team brought me into an excellent position. I followed the wheel of Kittel and was able to then launch my sprint at the right time. Our whole team worked very well together and achieved an excellent result today.”

Sam Bennett on the podium © BORA – hansgrohe / Bettiniphoto

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