Sam Bennett took his second victory in Rund um Köln today when he won the bunch sprint ahead of Mihkel Raim (Israel Cycling Academy) and Szymon Sajnok (CCC Sprandi Polkowice). The Irish sprinter had previously won the oldest German road race on the calendar in 2014. The victory showed that Bennett has maintained his form from the Giro d’Italia when he won three stages.
The riders faced a 207-kilometre course today and initial attempts to form the break of the day remained in vain and were quickly reeled back in by the peloton. After approximately 15 kilometres of racing, seven riders were able to distance themselves from the main field and solidified a lead of more than four minutes on the bunch.
On the first climb of the day, which appeared 55 kilometres into the race, some riders in the peloton already found themselves in difficulty on the 27 per cent steep slopes of the Agathaberg. Shortly thereafter, a few riders attempted to set chase after the breakaway to bridge the gap, however their endeavours were ultimately in vain.
In the second half of the race, the peloton started to put the hammer down, and with an increased tempo, the advantage of the break began to be whittled away. It was only a question of time as to when the escapees would be caught.
Under the tempo that was being meted out by BORA – hansgrohe, they were ultimately caught before the final two climbs of the day. Under this high pace, the peloton split into three groups, but calm was soon restored to the field, with everything coming together again and the riders travelling towards the inner city of Cologne in one main group.
The teams that were tipped to have a good chance of taking the win, BORA – hansgrohe and Katusha Alpecin who were working for Marcel Kittel, led the peloton onto the circuit in a high-paced finish and attempted to negate any attacks on the last laps. In a fast finish, Bennett opened up an impressive sprint and took the honours on the line ahead of Raim and Sajnok.
“It was a tough almost 208km-long race, but the guys did an unbelievable job,” said Sam Bennett. “They controlled the race the whole day. We planned to make the race as hard as possible for sprinters such as Marcel Kittel, and the guys executed our plan perfectly.
“In the finale, my leadout was seamless and the team brought me into an excellent position. I followed the wheel of Kittel and was able to then launch my sprint at the right time. Our whole team worked very well together and achieved an excellent result today.”
Top 10 – Rund um Köln (1.1)
1 – Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe) 4:53:17
2 – Mihkel Raim (Israel Cycling Academy)
3 – Szymon Sajnok (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
4 – Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille Provence KTM)
5 – Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha – Alpecin)
6 – Aaron Grosser (Team Sauerland NRW p/b SKS GERMANY)
7 – Fabian Lienhard (Switzerland)
8 – Jannik Steimle (Team Vorarlberg Santic)
9 – Alexander Krieger (Leopard Pro Cycling)
10 – Sean de Bie (Vérandas Willems-Crelan)