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In a tough uphill sprint, Bennett completed excellent teamwork by holding off Bouhanni and Navarduaskas to win stage 3 of the Bayern Rundfhart; the Irishman is back in yellow.

Photo: TNE/Stiehl










15.05.2015 @ 16:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After yesterday’s fourth place, Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) was back on the top step of the podium when he added the win in stage 3 to the one he took two days ago on the opening day of the Bayern Rundfahrt. In a hard uphill sprint, he beat Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin) and that was enough to take back the yellow jersey from John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) who could only manage 7th.


Sam Bennett got his second season as a professional off to a flying start when he beat the best sprinters in the world at the Tour of Qatar. Since then the Irishman has flown a bit under the radar but now he is apparently back in form as he readies himself for what is likely to be Tour de France debut later this year.


Two days ago he beat big favourites Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) in stage one of the Bayern Rundfahrt which is a big goal for his German Bora-Argon 18 team. Yesterday he lost his lead when he could only manage fourth and so lost the yellow jersey but his team made it clear that they aimed at getting it back in today’s third stage which finished with a tough uphill sprint in Ebern.


Bennett found himself up against Bouhanni and Degenkolb who are both known as specialists in that kind of finale but that didn’t hold him back. The impressive Irishman confirmed his progress and great condition when he took the win, relegating Bouhanni to his third consecutive second place while Ramunas Navardasukas took third.


The hilly finishing circuit was very hard to control and was the scene of several attacks. Jack Bauer (Cannondale) made a strong solo move and in the finale, the trio of Christian Mager (Cult), Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) and Huub Duijn (Roompot) threatened the sprinters.


However, Cofidis, Bora-Argon 18 and Giant-Alpecin worked very well together and they managed to bring the race back together with 2km to go. From there it was a big battle between the three strong lead-out trains.


Inside the final kilometre, it seemed like Cofidis and Giant had won the battle but Bennett managed to position himself well. In the end, he was faster than anyone else and managed to take his third ever victory in the race.


With the win, Bennett is back in yellow and he now leads Bouhanni by 2 seconds and Degenkolb by 3 seconds. However, he will lose his position tomorrow in the stage that is likely to decide the race. The 26.1km rolling time trial around Hassfurt will be the scene of a battle between the time trial specialists who will battle for overall honours before they get to the final sprint stage.


An uphill finale

After two lumpy stages for sprinters, it was time for the hardest road stage of the race. Stage 3 brought the riders over 205.9km from Selb to Ebern and included a hilly first part with three categorized climbs. Then the riders got to a flat section that led to the 11.7km finishing circuit that would be covered twice. It included a tough little climb and the finish line was located on the lower slopes, meaning that it was an uphill sprint.


There was one non-starter as big talent Silvio Herklotz (Stölting) was absent this morning. The riders had nice weather conditions when they gathered for the start and as it has been the case in the first two stages, the pace was very fast from the beginning. Wanty-Groupe Gobert were very active but their opening attacks were not successful as Movistar and Rad-Net Rose wanted to keep things together for the first sprint which was located after just 10.3km of racing.


Bonus seconds for Degenkolb

Sprint leader Jonas Koch (Rad-Net Rose) had bad luck to puncture just before the sprint and so he was not present when the sprint unfolded. Here race leader John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) beat GC contenders Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and Jack Bauer (Cannondale) to pick up three bonus seconds.


Immediately after the sprint, Rasmus Quaade (Cult), Leon Berger (Brandenburg), Simone Antonini (Wanty), Sacha Starker (Heizomat) and Marc de Maar (Roompot) attacked and the peloton was content with that group. After 13km of racing, the gap was already 50 seconds and it had gone out to 2.30 after 18km of racing.


Quaade drops off

The peloton upped the pace and stabilized the gap until Quaade who was in GC contention, decided to drop back to the peloton. That gave more room to the escapees and after 59km of racing, the gap had gone out to 4.50.


Antonini beat Starker and Berger in the first KOM sprint at the 65.7km mark. The peloton was still not in chase mode as the gap had gone out to 5.30 and it even went out to a maximum of 5.50 after 74km of racing.


KOM points for Antonini

Antonini again beat Starker and Berger in the second KOM sprint but at the same time, the racing in the peloton got animated as Movistar and Colombia hit the front. That had a big impact on the gap which was down to 3.02 after 102km of racing.


The fast pace created a split as 30 riders got an advantage of 30 seconds. However, that group was brought back at the 112km mark at a point when the gap was 2.50.


The break splits up

On the final climb, Berger and Starker were dropped from the front group and when Antonini led de Maar over the top, the duo had been distanced by 25 seconds. Starker took the final point on offer.


The peloton had slowed down and after 120km of racing, the gap had gone out to 4.20. At this point, the two Germans had already lost 3.30.


Giant-Alpecin and Bora-Argon 18 in control

De Maar beat Antonini in the second sprint while Berger took third. Giant-Alpecin and Bora-Argon 18 set the pace in the peloton and they had reduced the gap to 3.30.


At the 144km mark, the gap was 2.50 and it was now melting away. 12km later it was 1.45 and the two chasers were still doing well to stay away


Antonini takes off

Antonini dropped De Maar and managed to bring the gap back to 2.40 with 47km to go. Entering the finale 35km, the Italian was 1.05 ahead of De Maar, 1.50 ahead of the two Germans and 2.20 ahead of the peloton.


Suddenly, Antonini cracked completely and in just a few kilometres he went from being the leader to riding at the back of the peloton. As Berger and Starker were also caught, de Maar was now the lone leader and he entered the final 25km with a 2-minute advantage.


De Maar is caught

At the first passage of the finish line, the gap had been brought down to 1.25. Bora-Argon 18 were doing the hard work on the front as they wanted to set Sam Bennett up for another win.


Starker was distanced from the peloton while the gap started to melt away. With 17km to, it was only 25 seconds and 5km later it was over for De Maar.


Bauer attacks

Bauer was the next rider to attack and he managed to build an advantage of 20 seconds while Movistar took control. They got some assistance from Giant-Alpecin and Bora-Argon 18 but a very strong Bauer managed to extend his advantage to 30 seconds.


However, it was over for the Kiwi as they started the final lap and immediately new riders took off. Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) briefly got a gap before five riders got away. Bauer still managed to win the final intermediate sprint ahead of Kersten Thiele (Rad-Net) and Tiago Machado (Katusha).


A strong trio

Two riders were dropped, leaving just Christian Mager (Cult), Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) and Huub Duijn (Roompot) to press on. They entered the final 3km with an advantage of 12 seconds and now Cofidis were chasing hard.


Bora-Argon 18 and Giant-Alpecin also came forward and this spelled the end for the trio which was brought back with 2km to go. Bora-Argon 18 took control but as they entered the final kilometre, it was Giant-Alpecin on the front. They went head to head with Cofidis but it was Bennett who came out on top.



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