Bora-Hansgrohe were superb as they set up Sam Bennett for his hat trick of wins at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. The team, which included Shane Archbold, navigated the difficult climbs to the end of the stage perfectly to command the sprint and secure the Irishman’s third win in three days.
The third stage of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey took the riders on the shorter 128.6km stage from Fethiye to Marmaris. The stage was once again expected to be a day for the sprinters and a chance for Bora-Hansgrohe to continue in their electric start to the race, with Sam Bennett looking to maintain his 100% record so far.
Despite the shortness of the stage a breakaway did succeed in going up the road, with Ferit Samli of the Turkish National Team, Thomas Deruette of WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect and Trek-Segafredo’s Gregory Daniel going up the road together. The trio never looked likely to go all the way to the line, and with 30km to go the trio had less than a minute in hand over the peloton. This time though there was a significant chase effort launched by the Brazilian national team. They had the company of Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia towards the front.
It was at the final intermediate sprint where the breakaway fragmented. The chase wasn’t at all in full flight, although a number of teams were showing interest in the front of the race. Sam Bennett in his turquoise leader’s jersey was visible on the left hand side of the road, CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Gazprom-RusVelo were also reasonably prominent on the front of the race. The break’s lead had come down to close to 30 seconds with Samli not coming through very willingly to support the efforts of Gregory Daniel. Samli appeared to be saving himself for the intermediate sprint, but possibly because of his reluctance to work, Gregory Daniel opted to contest the sprint and from there press on solo.
With 23.6km to go Daniel had stretched out his lead to over a minute once again and looked to be quite comfortable riding his own race and going alone. At this point the road was heading uphill on a rather late climb that threatened Bennett’s – and indeed the likes of Theuns’ – ability to contest the win. Despite the climb though the sprinters were able to remain in contention, with Bora-Hansgrohe playing a more prominent role on the front along with UAE Team Emirates.
20km from the finish his lead had been reduced to 41 seconds and from here the teams behind in the peloton really began to assert themselves, with UAE Team Emirates and Trek-Segafredo taking commanding roles on the front. Bora-Hansgrohe, meanwhile, appeared content to hold their fire and bide their time behind the two lead teams. Two other teams who were very keen on making their intent clear on the front though were CCC Sprandi Polkowice and Androni Sidermec who served to add further fuel to the intensity. With 11km to go Bora-Hansgrohe also added their muscle to the chase, with the knowledge that another ramp up awaited that could potentially put pressure on the sprinters.
Daniel was finally brought to heel with 10km left to race. But there was no let up in the intensity, with riders attacking and heading up the road as the road ramped up just a little bit. The worst of the climb was still to come but the attacks did serve to stretch the peloton right out, but what would this mean for the sprinters? UAE Team Emirates spied an opportunity with Darwin Atapuma showing his climbing prowess on the front. Bora-Hansgrohe and Sam Bennett were on the ropes and forced onto the defensive, but they managed to stay in contention with Shane Archbold, Gregor Muhlberger and Sam Bennett all staying in the front group over the climb.
Down the descent it was Androni-Sidermec-Bottecchia and UAE leading the way, while behind them Shane Archbold and Sam Bennett were engaged in conversation as they plotted their approach to the finish which was coming at a rapid rate. With 3km to go Bora-Hansgrohe shot to the front of the race, and they did it en masse with 5 teammates on hand to support Bennett. It was definitely advantage Bennett, and Archbold had taken his place as last lead out rider and was quite prepared with 2km to go.
Edward Theuns was also well positioned and trying to infiltrate the lead out, but they couldn’t disrupt Bora-Hansgrohe as the field navigated the big turns before the sprint finish. As the road moved towards the finish Bora-Hansgrohe were in control with two lead out riders to support Bennett. Archbold however was just behind Bennett and in the end it was his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates who did the big lead out.
Despite a late charge from Manuel Belletti, Bennett dug deep and came through to take yet another stage win. Edward Theuns took seond place, with Simone Consonni of UAE Team Emirates third. Shane Archbold remained close to the front of the race, crossing the line in 19th place.