Irish rider Sam Bennett has already defied expectations by winning his second Vuelta a Espana stage of the 2022 race. Known to be a strong sprinter at his best, we haven’t seen too much of that peak this year. Bennett’s only other win this season was at Eschborn-Frankfurt back in May. It’s been a tough road back to his best after the knee injury and confidence knock that missing out on last year’s Tour de France, only to see Mark Cavendish win repeatedly and suffer public doubt from his then team manager.
Today’s stage started and finished in Breda as the Vuelta’s final day in the Netherlands before returning to its Spanish homeland. With nothing major on the parcours, it was always likely to come down to a sprint. So it was largely uneventful except for a crash for general classification favourite Richard Carapaz with around 18km to go. The Olympic road race winner was brought back into the peloton by his Ineos Grenadiers teammates.
At the end, Bennett repeated his victory in Utrecht from the day before. With 193 kilometres raced before the Irishman managed to cross the finish line in the first place. He once again beat the Dane Mads Pedersen to the line, with Brit Dan McLay making up today’s podium positions.
Today’s win helped elevate Sam Bennett to become only the 2nd Irish rider behind legend Sean Kelly to win 10 stages in Grand Tour races. Whilst Stephen Roche isn’t on that list, he will still rightly claim a position among the best of the Irish cyclists. Bennett is making the gap closer each season though.
“It was quite hard because a lot of people were fighting for our wheel. It was just the natural flow that people went up the side and squeezed me off, so there were a few tough moments to hold Danny [van Poppel]’s wheel. It was a hard fight.”Sam Bennett
The win confirms Sam Bennett’s lead in the points jersey – he now leads on 117 points to Pedersen’s 80. Edoardo Affini will take over the red leader’s jersey, for stage 4, becoming the third Jumbo-Visma rider to do so after Robert Gesink and Mike Teunissen.