There was bad luck for Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) today at the Baloise Belgium Tour (2.HC) as the Irish sprinter came down in a bunch spill inside the final two kilometres. Despite the high-speed crash though, he was able to remount and finish the stage.
Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie – Bruxelles) and Brian van Goethem (Roompot – Oranje Peloton) broke clear early on the first stage of the race from Buggenhout to Knokke-Heist, but they weren’t given much leeway by the bunch and their lead never extended much more than three minutes.
The duo reached Knokke-Heist with a number of finishing circuits to complete but with 15 kilometres remaining, the pair were reeled in. Jack Bauer (Cannondale-Garmin) was amongst those who then tried to go clear but was unable to get much of a gap.
Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) who went into the stage just 2″ behind race leader Wout van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) also tried to get away in the closing kilometres but he was also brought back setting up a bunch finish.
Bennett’s Bora-Argon 18 team worked well to keep the Irishman near the front inside the final kilometres. Unfortunately, there was a big crash in the bunch with 1.5 kilometres remaining and Bennett was amongst those to go down.
Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) proved fastest at the end to win ahead of Daniel McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
Bennett was able to cross the line but it’s unclear as to the extent of his injuries. The race continues tomorrow with a 200.9km stage from Knokke-Heist to Herzele.