Bennett secures breakthrough win in Tour of Qatar

Irishman looks for more success at upcoming Tour of Oman

Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) took a breakthrough win on the final stage of the Tour of Qatar ahead of Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) on Friday and pinpointed a repeat in next week’s Tour of Oman as his next target.

The 24-year-old Irishman received the perfect lead-out from Bora-Argon 18 teammates on Doha, before timing his run to the line perfectly.

“I was just trying to keep my cool and keep sheltered for most of the day and the guys did a fantastic job of leading me,” Bennentt told Cyclingnews has he made his way from the podium.

“They brought me into a great position for the final corner and then it was so strung out that there wasn’t much fighting. I was just in the right place at the right time but the team did a fantastic job.

“The Astana guy went at 200 but I was able to time my sprint because there was no one coming up and I could wait and just go when I wanted. It was absolutely perfect.”

The win marks Bennett’s first of the calendar year and biggest since he moved up to the Pro Continental level. He finished fifth in Qatar’s opening stage but admitted that victory was the only aim in the race. Considering the class of the field, and with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) having won three of the previous bunch kicks, Bennett’s win is a significant step forward in the rider’s career.

“The pressure that it relieves is unbelievable. I put myself under a lot of pressure and I really want to get results for the team. With a new sponsor, it’s good for the morale in the team if we can come and get a result early on. It’s great to get that,” he told Cyclingnews.

When asked how he dealt with the depth and quality around him in the Qatar race field, he provided another level-headed response.

“I never really think about that. I just concentrate on myself and when there are more big names it’s almost better because they’re all looking at each other and you can come from behind and they don’t expect you. It’s Oman next, so let's see if we can get another one.”

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