Brugge-De Panne: Victory for Bennett

Sam Bennett took his first career victory in a World Tour one-day race in spectacular fashion, winning the 45th Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne by several bike lengths

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Brugge-De Panne: Victory for Bennett

Photo: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images

Sam Bennett took his first career victory in a World Tour one-day race in spectacular fashion, winning the 45th Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne by several bike lengths after another dominant lead-out of his Deceuninck – Quick-Step teammates. The 30-year-old, who has enjoyed a red-hot start to the season, winning four of the six bunch sprints he contested since kicking off his campaign in February, was the outright favourite and proved on the finishing straight why he carried this tag going into the race.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step led through the final left-hand corner, having been brought to the front by Florian Sénéchal and Bert Van Lerberghe, who were outstanding in positioning the Wolfpack train at the front going under the flamme rouge. Sam Bennett had Michael Mørkøv for company with 200 meters to go and once he came off the wheel of the experienced Dane, he launched a devastating sprint that gave absolutely no chance to Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe).

The 30-year-old won by several bike lengths, just as he did at the UAE Tour and Paris-Nice, notching up his fifth victory of the season. By doing this, Sam became the sixth different Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider in ten years to win the Belgian race and helped the Wolfpack increase their lead in the UCI World Team Classification.

“It’s a great day for me and the team. Winning a World Tour one-day race was something I’ve been chasing for many years and I’m very happy to get it here today. The guys did a fantastic job, remained calm and worked hard for this result the entire day. I can’t thank them enough for this. In the last meters, I didn’t focus on anyone else, just did my sprint and now I’m happy with this win, important for us but also for our Belgian sponsors. The confidence is high in the team, which is excellent ahead of our next races”, an elated Sam said after his success.

“Philipsen started early, but I felt that the wind was blowing. So I decided to wait a little longer. I didn’t look at anyone around me, I just wanted to do my own sprint ”, Bennett explained. The Irishman acknowledged that he was a bit nervous on the road. “There were too many road obstacles for such a bunch sprint. It’s a big and important race and everyone wants to be there, you have a lot of riders who are under pressure and who all want to get a good result. Then you cannot have that in the final. Still it was a great day. ”

The peloton passed through the notorious De Moeren polder several times, but the peloton did not split into echelons there. He had actually enjoyed himself there with Bennett saying “It’s a great road to race on and there is always a lot happening. It’s a lot of fun if you have good legs, but less so if your legs are bad. It was very important to win here. Especially because I ride in a Belgian team. And for me personally, because this is my first one-day win in the WorldTour I have been chasing for years and I am glad that it has now worked out. ”

Pascal Ackermann (Bora Hansgrohe): “Our plan was to have the race be decided in a sprint. Some teams attempted to split the field but we were very attentive today, and their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. The finale was quite chaotic. Over the last kilometres the peloton was spread out and then there was this tricky combination of turns before the finishing straight. In the approach to the sprint itself, Deceuninck-Quickstep was very strong and I tried to pass Sam, but he was simply the fastest today and so I have to make do with third place.”

Cees Bol: “It was a stressful race with the wind and twisting roads,” explained Bol. “In the finale the boys positioned me well. I had to hit the brakes a few times with lead out men from other teams coming back through the group. It was a bit unlucky and there is some room for improvement but it was still a top ten, so we’ll take that into our next races.”

Barnabás Peák (Bike Exchange): “It was the plan to get in the break today, we discussed with (Mat) Hayman that we wanted to race active and I’m really happy that I could make into the break. I think it wasn’t easy, it was thanks to some good teamwork that I could be there, and I was just happy to be at the front wearing our jersey.

“We were riding pretty smoothly with the other five guys. Unfortunately, with these kinds of racing, it’s just so tense and the peloton is always riding fast to be in position, so we were brought back a bit earlier than I would have liked, but it was a good experience.”


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