With just over a week before the World Road Race Championships, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) has shown that he is coming into form at the right time by winning the 66th edition of Paris-Bourges today, with a review of the photo-finish needed to separate first from second.
It was his second win in as many weeks after winning a stage of the Giro della Toscana recently, but following the Italian race, he had suffered a bout of bronchitis.
The 66th edition of the race between Gien and Bourges was 190 kilometres long and featured a hilly parcours with some tricky crosswind sections. It was still expected to finish in a sprint though.
A five men break – Jauregui (AG2R), Gesbert (Fortunéo), Helven (Topsport), Centrone (Differdange) und Iversen (Giant U23) – was allowed to go clear from the peloton but the bunch never let them extend their lead to more than 4 minutes.
The Cofidis team of Nacer Bouhanni and Bora-Argon 18 worked at the front to ensure that their lead was kept to a minimum.
After the remaining two breakaway riders Jauregui (AG2R) and Gesbert (Fortunéo) were caught, everything was set up for a bunch sprint from a much-reduced peloton.
Zak Dempster and Scott Thwaites were still there for Bora-Argon 18 and helped to ensure Bennett was in an ideal position for the sprint, where the Irish rider proved fastest, just edging out Alexander Porsev (Katusha) for the win to repeat his victory of last year, with Rudy Barbier (Roubaix Lille Metropole)
“It was really a hard race today,” said Bennett afterwards. “I was sick for 6 days and after the start of the race I didn’t feel good. But I knew it would be like that today and I also knew the course from last year, so we were always up front when the crosswind did play a role. Silvio (Herklotz) and Pfingsti (C. Pfingsten) really worked a lot throughout the day for me.”
“In the end I still had Zak (Dempster) and Scott (Thwaites) who did a perfect job as well. Two corners before the finish I was at the wheel of Bouhanni. Coquard was also there and tried to push him a little, both had to brake then and I came around them outside. On the home straight a waited really long before I push hard.”
“In the end I just got Prosev be a few millimetres. I did not expect that at all today, therefore it is even more satisfying now.”