Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) completed a hat-trick of stage wins at the BinckBank Tour today when he was declared the winner of stage after a review of the photo finish.
The third stage of the race consisted of 166.9 kilometres, spread out over a number of loops around the small town of Aalter in East Flanders. The route contained several cobbled sections, was relatively flat and as expected, the race ended in a fast finish which was fought out between the sprinters.
Today’s stage commemorated the young Lotto-Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht, who tragically passed away last week, with the peloton riding through his hometown of Knesselare.
After two hours of racing, the early breakaway containing four riders still remained at the front, a couple of minutes ahead of the main field. BORA-hansgrohe remained at the forefront of the peloton in order to control the tempo, and the breakaway was caught with 70 kilometres to go.
Several attacks from the field resulted in yet another breakaway consisting of Harry Tanfield (Katusha-Alpecin), Stijn Steels (Roompot Charles) and Guillaume Van Kerisbulck (CCC Team) being able to make it up the road. Rain, small and uneven roads, and cobbled sectors made riding in these conditions rather treacherous but BORA-hansgrohe supported by other sprinter teams, kept the leading trio on a tight leash, and in the end it came all together again.
In the last two kilometres, Sam Bennett tried to assert himself in the fight for position, and he was able to catch the wheel of Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) and sprint past him in the last few metres. After a decision via a photo finish, Bennett was declared to have netted his third win in a row at this year’s race. With this feat, the Irish champion becomes the first rider who have attained a consecutive hat-trick of stage wins at this race. He was also able to extend his lead in the overall standings as well as the points classification.
Sam Bennett – “At first, I was not sure if I had actually taken the win or not. It was a very close finish. It came down to a very chaotic finale. I’m really happy to have done the hat-trick here, and I’m incredibly proud to represent Ireland with the national champion’s kit as well. It took a fair bit of energy to stay up the front in the race today and keep myself out of difficulties, and so it’s fantastic to be able to have taken three wins in a row.”