Sam Bennett won stage three of the Vuelta a España, the second consecutive victory for the Bora-Hansgrohe rider, with a commanding sprint finish in the Dutch city of Breda.
The Irishman appeared to be out of contention following the final right‑hand bend inside the final kilometre, with Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) seemingly perfectly positioned after a strong lead-out from his teammates.
But a long, straight drag to the finish line at the end of a pan-flat 193.5km loop afforded Bennett time and space to accelerate past his rivals and prove he is the most powerful finisher at the season’s final grand tour. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) was second and Dan McLay (Arkéa-Samsic) was third.
Edoardo Affini will wear the overall leader’s red jersey on stage four on Tuesday following Jumbo-Visma’s team time trial success on Friday.
Bennett said: “It was quite a hard fight and the boys, again, what can I say? Big thank you for the commitment. The boys were looking after me in the bunch all day, giving me bottles when it was hard.
“Today wasn’t hard Vuelta-wise, but there was a lot of accelerations out of corners all day, it was a really nervous day, but again, the job they did in the final … it was a masterclass. For it to happen two days in a row is quite nice. This is confidence‑boosting, for sure.”
Bennett was overlooked by his team for Tour de France selection this year, and has been linked with a move elsewhere, but this pair of wins – his ninth and 10th at grand tours – may now change the picture. He previously won two stages at the Tour de France and three at the Giro d’Italia and is the second Irishman, after Sean Kelly, to achieve 10 grand tour stage wins.
It had been a nervous and high-paced day in the saddle for the riders, with potential crosswinds a concern for the general classification contenders, and the overall average speed was just below 50km/h.
A seven-man breakaway featuring Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) broke up in the closing kilometres after the Belgian veteran won the only intermediate sprint of the day with 12km remaining.
There were numerous sharp bends and pieces of road furniture to negotiate, and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) crashed towards the end, but was safely paced back into the peloton by teammates. Carapaz remains 13sec behind Primoz Roglic, Jumbo-Visma’s defending champion, in the overall race.
The race now relocates to Spain, with a transfer day on Monday before stage four between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Laguardia in the Basque country – a 152.5km medium mountain stage.