Sam Bennett left rival sprinters reeling on Tuesday, timing his mass bunch sprint effort to perfection to win flat 171km third stage of the Criterium du Dauphine by a clear margin.
The Bora-hangrohe sprinter has been on sparkling form this season picking up seven stage victories including two at Paris-Nice and making his case for inclusion in the Tour de France team, which is still far from certain.
“I’m the man to beat now so it’s more complicated when the other guys are all keeping an eye on you,” Bennett said. “I waited until the last minute but even then I thought maybe I’d gone too soon, but the legs held out.”
The Dauphine overall leader Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) kept the yellow jersey as all the main contenders such as Chris Froome, Adam Yates and Richie Porte finished at the same time.
Ahead of a challenging individual time-trial which will reset the agenda on Wednesday, Tuesday’s stage was the only flat one on the eight-day Criterium, which is seen as a form gauge for July’s Tour de France.
The Eritrean rider Natnael Berhane and Quentin Pacher led a long breakaway through the rolling green fields around the Puy-de-Dome region but were caught up with around five kilometres to go.
That set up a classic mass bunch sprint where Bennett came out ahead of Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and the Davide Ballerini (Astana).
Critérium du Dauphiné 2019 – stage 3 results (Le Puy-en-Velay – Riom):
|1||Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)|
|3||Davide Ballerini (Astana)|
|4||Clement Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|5||Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo)|
|6||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)|
|7||Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|8||Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|9||Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|10||Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal)|
Critérium du Dauphiné 2019 – general classification after stage 3:
|1||Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida)|
|2||Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Gobert)|
|3||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)|
|4||Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)|
|5||Nairo Quintana (Movistar)|
|6||Michael Woods (EF Education First)|
|7||Wout Poels (Team Ineos)|
|8||Chris Froome (Team Ineos)|
|9||Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)|
|10||Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)|