Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) showed that he’s in great form today as he won the bunch sprint on the opening stage of the Giro della Toscana – Memorial Alfredo Martini (UCI 2.1) to finish 5th on the stage.
Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) won the stage after a late attack in Montecatini Terme and just about held off Daniele Bennati (Italy) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) with Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) taking fourth.
On the penultimate climb of the day the decisive move was launched from a group of seven riders. The break was able to go clear from the peloton but was chased by Bennett’s team-mate Emanuel Buchmann and Steve Cummings. It looked like the duo could close on the leading group, but when both crashed in the downhill their chase had an abrupt end.
In the chasing group, Bora-Argon 18 took responsibility to work for a possible sprint finish with Bennett, who was still part of that group. Cesare Benedetti and Paul Voss tried everything in alliance with some other teams. But in the end the quartet was able to stay in front by just a few seconds.
Bennett proved fastest of the chasing peloton beating Fabio Sabatini (Italy) and Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) to take fifth.
“It was not the best of luck when Emu crashed,” said Directeur Sportif André Schulze. “With him in front we would have had a lot of opportunities for the last kilometres. After he went down we concentrated 100% on Sam. It’s a pity that in the end just a few metres were missing to catch the leaders. But Sam showed really impressive today that he back to 100%, I am very happy for him and with the 5th place.”
The two-day race concludes tomorrow with a 185.3-kilometre stage from Montecatini Terme to Pontedera. The stage includes the climb of Monte Serra after 60 kilometres with the riders then facing two laps of a finishing circuit with a couple of small climbs on the circuit.
The Irish rider is also due to line up in the Giro dell’Emilia, the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli and Sparkassen Münsterland Giro in the coming weeks. Following on from his top ten recently in the GP de Fourmies / La Voix du Nord (1.HC), Bennett has shown that he’s getting closer to a win.