Hat-trick for Sam Bennett after photo finish at BinckBank Tour
The third stage of the BinckBank Tour was comprised of 166.9 km, spread out over a number of loops around the small town of Aalter in East Flanders. The route contained several cobbled sections, but apart from that, it was relatively flat and, as expected, the race ended in a fast finish which was fought out between the sprinters. Today’s stage commemorated the young Lotto-Soudal rider, Bjorg Lambrecht, who tragically passed away last week, with the peloton riding through his hometown of Knesselare. After two hours of racing, the early breakaway containing three riders still remained at the front, a couple of minutes ahead of the main field. BORA-hansgrohe remained at the forefront of the peloton in order to control the tempo, and the breakaway was caught with 70 km to go. Several attacks from the field resulted in yet another breakaway, with a trio being able to make it up the road. Rain, small and uneven roads, and cobbled sectors made riding in these conditions rather treacherous but the squad from Raubling, supported by other sprinter teams, kept the leading trio on a tight leash, and in the end it came all together again. Over the last two kilometres, Sam Bennett tried to assert himself in the fight for position, and he was able to catch the wheel of D. Groenewegen and sprint past him in the last few metres. After a decision via a photo finish, Sam was declared to have netted his third win in a row at this year’s BinckBank Tour. With this feat, the Irish champion becomes the first rider who have attained a consecutive hattrick of stage wins at this race. After today’s performance, he was also able to extend his lead in the overall standings as well as the points classification.
01 S. Bennett 3:48:36
02 D. Groenewegen +0:00
03 J. Philipsen +0:00
From the finish line
“At first, I was not sure if I had actually taken the win or not. It was a very close finish. It came down to a very chaotic finale. I’m really happy to have done the hattrick here, and I’m incredibly proud to represent Ireland with the national champion’s kit as well. It took a fair bit of energy to stay up the front in the race today and keep myself out of difficulties, and so it’s fantastic to be able to have taken three wins in a row.” – Sam Bennett
“Today was an outstanding day. We wanted to let only a small group get clear, as that would be easier to control, and we were able to achieve this. However, other teams got involved and made the race somewhat more open again. After the break was caught, it was harder to control the race. There were several shifts in direction and small streets once again today, which also made the stage more difficult. In the end, everything worked out well. We still had two riders remaining who could bring Sam into an ideal position, and he finished off a day of solid teamwork with the win. Three stage victories in a row, we’re extremely happy with this achievement.” – André Schulze, Sports Director