Sam Bennett wins grim opening stage at the Binck Bank Tour
Bennett outsprints Theuns and Theunissen to take stage victory in grim conditions
The flat first stage of the BinckBank Tour was tailor-made for the fast men of the peloton. The riders traversed 167.2 flat kilometres from Beveren in the Belgian province of East Flanders, to Hulst in the southwest of the Netherlands.
Like all of this year’s stages, with the exception of the ITT, today’s stage featured a Golden Kilometre containing three intermediate sprints within a distance of only 1000m as well as time bonuses of 3, 2, and 1 seconds.
The second half the stage was made more challenging by six cobbled sections, however, the race came down to the expected mass sprint in Hulst. Not long after the start, a group of four was able to escape, yet their lead grew to no more than 2:30. Rainy conditions during the second half of the race made for a difficult race, and the peloton ultimately split into several groups.
Irish champion Sam Bennett remained attentive and managed to make the cut into the first group with some teammates. The sprinters’ teams were sure to not gift the break any chances to take the win, and as a result of the pace setting, the distance to the leading quartet began to be whittled down.
With less than 30km remaining, several sprinters’ teams came to the front to share the pace setting duties and close the gap to the leaders. The catch was eventually made with a few kilometres remaining in the race.
Two kilometres ahead of the finish line, Bennett positioned himself on the wheel of sprint favorite Dylan Groenewegen and waited until the ideal moment to launch his sprint.
In the last metres, he was able to overtake E. Theuns and M. Theunissen, to net his ninth victory this season, and his first in the Irish national champion’s jersey. With his win, he also leads the points classification as well as the overall standings by a margin of 2 seconds.
“I’m really happy, It’s my first win in my National Champion’] jersey and I’m happy that it’s come sooner rather than later. I’m delighted."
“It was pretty dangerous. I was just trying to keep up front. The guys did a good job keeping me there and I kept in a good position in the last 2km and just tried to hold on to the bigger trains. I just tried to stay out of trouble really."
“To be honest, I was nervous with the rain, I had a few skids in the race. But it was good, I can’t complain.”
VIDEO: 2019 Binck Bank Tour Stage 1 Highlights
2019 Binck Bank Tour GC after Stage 1
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe 3:37:05
2 Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team 0:00:02
3 Lars Bak (Den) Dimension Data 0:00:03
4 Edward Teuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:04
5 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:06
6 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie-Bruxells 0:00:07
7 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:10
8 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
9 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
10 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma