Tour Down Under: Bennett and Sagan switch roles mid-race but miss out

Bora-hansgrohe duo 'live and learn' from hot and windy stage 1

At the start of stage 1 of the Tour Down Under the Bora plan was clear with Sam Bennett designated to lead out Peter Sagan in the sprint. The reversal of roles from the People's Choice Classic was an understandable one but few plans in cycling are set in stone and when the world champion decides to flip the playbook you roll with it.

In the end Bennett came undone - as he did in Sunday's Criterium – with Caleb Ewan and Danny van Poppel showing him a clean pair of heels.

"We hit the front at the right time but I think I made a mistake by waiting a bit too long and then guys came over the top with a bit more speed. I found it hard to reaccelerate and match them," Bennett said at the finish.

"It was a really messy sprint because everyone was so fresh but we timed it well. We came into the last corner in the lead. I wanted to wait until the final 150 meters to go because of the headwind but I should have gone with 200. You live and learn."

Earlier in the morning a nervous Bennett had explained to Cyclingnews that he had never led out a rider since turning professional and that his task was to shepherd his teammate, and the World Champion, to the line.

"Today we were meant to go for Peter," he told Cyclingnews as he sheltered from the blistering heat at the finish.

"He came up to me in the race and gave me another chance. He just came up and asked if I was okay. I said no and that I wanted to stick to the plan. I wanted to do my job as he led me out the first day. He's the road captain and he said 'okay we go for you'. I wanted to give back for the other night but he was so willing to give a leadout."

Stage 2 looks set to be decided by the GC contenders and although Bennett is a sprinter he will have the chance to work for his teammates in the coming days. The next bunch sprint is likely to be on stage 3 of the race with Sagan and Bennett having another chance.

"Maybe I'm a bit to self critical at times and I need to relax," he told Cyclingnews. 

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