Another season and another small milestone for Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18), who moved his win tally up to four for the season after victory on stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway. The 24-year-old edged out Frederico Zurlo (UnitedHealthcare) and race leader Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in the finish at Setermoen and now has a win more than he did from the entirety of last season.
This was perhaps his best win of the season too, with the Irishman coming from a long way back to seal an impressive stage win. After a third place on stage 1 Bennett is showing a fine patch of post-Tour de France form.
“This is up there with my best wins. And it’s really good for my morale. Every year I want to step up and improve and last year I had three wins but I wanted an extra win this year to really say that I’ve made another step. I’ve got that now,” he told Cyclingnews after his win.
Bennett owned much to his team for this performance, especially Zakkari Dempster, who encouraged the sprinter to fight on despite what Bennett perceived as poor legs.
“It was hectic but coming into the last 10K I was feeling so bad and told the guys that I didn’t want to sprint but then Zak yelled at me to try and the boys did an incredible job and led me out perfectly. They kept their cool, which was really important. We got a bit swamped and I lost a wheel and was in a bad position but just kept coming through gaps.”
“There was a bit of luck, the door opened and I had to go. There couldn’t be any hesitation.”
With four wins under his belt for the season Bennett can turn his attention to final two stages in Norway before a final block of racing in Europe. Stage 3 of Arctic race is designed for the climbers but the final stage could see Bennett in the mix once more.
“I’ll give it a go and the pressure is off the team now so we’ll give it absolutely everything.”
Whatever the outcome from the final two days, Bennett is pleased with the level of consistency he has shown throughout a season that has seen him race from February until August.
“I’m delighted. In my head a good sprinter has to get wins all year round and he has to win when he feels good and bad. There’s also some consistency there too with my third yesterday.”