Sam Bennett’s excellent start to the season continued today when he won the sixth stage of Paris – Nice in Brignoles. It was the Irishman’s fourth win of the season and second win in the Race to the Sub.
Today’s stage took the peloton from Peynier over 176.5 km to Brignoles and the course featured three categorised climbs, all in the second half of the stage. As three riders went clear from the bunch, the peloton held them on a short leash, never allowing them more than three minutes advantage.
Right before the first ascent of the day, the Côte de la Sainte-Baume, the gap fell quickly as the bunch increased the pace significantly. Before the break crested the climb, the race was all back together. From that point on the tempo remained high and strong wind effected the race as well. As a result, some of the sprinters lost contact and the bunch split into several groups.
With Bennett, Jempy Drucker, Felix Großschartner and Pawel Poljanski, BORA – hansgrohe had four riders at the front. There was another selection on the last climb and a greatly reduced bunch approached Brignoles. On the fast run down into the city, his team was able to keep Bennett safe near the front.
The Irish sprinter waited until the last minute to open his sprint, but timed it perfectly, overtaking Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ) just before the finish line. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) took third ahead of John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo). In addition, Bennett also took over the points classification as Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) kept the leader’s jersey.
Sam Bennett – “I wanted to go hard today, because it was a perfect stage in terms of preparation for Sanremo. I thought I wouldn’t be able to survive the second last climb, but I made it. In the last few kilometres I had really good legs. I knew there is no need to panic, I just had to follow my teammates, who did a fantastic job. I got almost boxed in on the final metres but made my way through. I could beat some of the best sprinters once again, I am really looking forward to Sanremo now, which is my first goal of the season.”