Towards Zero Race Melbourne: Sam Bennett bests Viviani in sprint finish

Irishman outsprints Ewan, Viviani and the rest to win again

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the Towards Zero Race criterium in Melbourne's Albert Park for a second consecutive year, after a strong breakaway was caught during the last 5.3km lap of the fast circuit that will host the season opener of the Formula 1 World Championships in two months' time.

Mitchelton-Scott led the chase of the break along with Quick-Step Floors and seemed in control of the lead out. However, Ewan was suddenly left out front early, while Bennett timed his powerful surge perfectly. Viviani jumped onto the Irishman's wheel but was unable to come past him at the line.

Steele Von Hoffe (Bennelong SwissWellness) came through to finish third, while Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb) was fourth and Ewan fifth.

“This win is really important for my morale and confidence,” Bennett said. “I came to the Tour Down Under and unfortunately fell ill there, and didn't have very good form. Yesterday, I even had to turn back from training because I felt in a bad way. So, today's result is a bit of a surprise. I had good legs and the Bora-Hansgrohe guys did an excellent job to put me in a good position into the final stretch. It is very encouraging to get this win, which I think bodes well for the rest of the season. To win twice here is also a great feeling.”

The 116-kilometre criterium is the warm-up race for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, with Annette Edmondson (Wiggle-High5) winning the women's race earlier in the day.

Richie Porte was not part of the BMC line-up on Thursday but most of the riders in Australia pinned on a race number to test their legs before Sunday's race.

The smooth, wide roads of Albert Park inspired a fast race. The break of the day formed early with the initial seven riders in the move all working to open a gap. Mitchelton-Scott were working for Australian criterium champion Ewan, who was in his green and gold jersey for the race. They had some help from Quick-Step Floors but had to work hard to chase the break.

The riders up front included Owain Doull (Team Sky), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin), Nathan Earle (Israel Cycling Academy), Peter Koning (Aqua Blue Sport) and Chad Haga (Team Sunweb).

They rotated like clockwork as the laps ticked down, with the speed so high that Haga and then Doull were eventually distanced.

The break led the peloton by 15 seconds at the start of the last of the 22 laps. They seemed poised to stay away but it proved one lap too far, with peloton catching sight of them on the long straights and then catching them with just over two kilometres to go. Koning and Goncalves were the last to give up, wisely swinging out of the way of the 60km/h peloton.

Mitchelton-Scott and Quick-Step Floors lined out and protected Ewan and Viviani, but the speed was so high that other riders and teams were also in contention. Mitchelton-Scott tried to take over in the final kilometre but they ran out of men, with a Quick-Step rider hitting the front and Ewan jumping on his wheel. However, Ewan was soon left on the front. He tried to open up his sprint but Bennett came past him with Viviani on his wheel.

The Italian won a stage at the Tour Down Under but didn't have the pure speed to match Bennett and stop him taking a second consecutive victory in the criterium.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora - Hansgrohe2:29:08 
2Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick - Step Floors  
3Steele von Hoff (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia  
4Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb  
5Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
6Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
7Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha Alpecin  
8Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky  
9Robert Wagner (Ger) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
10Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb  
11August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy  
12Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
13Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha Alpecin  
14Alex Frame (NZl) Trek - Segafredo  
15Etienne Van Empel (Ned) Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij  
16Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora - Hansgrohe  
17Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe  
18Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
19Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
20Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
21Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek - Segafredo  
22Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
23Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick - Step Floors  
24Tom Bohli (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
25Michael Morkov (Den) Quick - Step Floors  
26Shane Archbold (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport  
27Michel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport  
28Christopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky  
29Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data  
30Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha Alpecin  
31Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
32Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport  
33Lars Bak Ytting (Den) Lotto Soudal  
34Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij  
35Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:10 
36Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team Sunweb0:00:13 
37Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick - Step Floors  
38Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha Alpecin0:00:17 
39Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
40Patrick Bevin (NZl) BMC Racing Team  
41Scott Bowden (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia  
42Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data  
43Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Dimension Data  
44Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
45Martijn Budding (Ned) Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij  
46Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
47Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
48Jason Lea (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia  
49Casper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport  
50Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
51Miles Scotson (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
52Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
53Niklas Eg (Den) Trek - Segafredo  
54Calvin Watson (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport  
55Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy  
56Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb  
57Robert de Greef (Ned) Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij  
58Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha Alpecin  
59Johonatan Restrepo Valencia (Col) Katusha Alpecin  
60Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe0:00:29 
61Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb  
62Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data  
63Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
64Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal  
65Roy Goldstein (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy  
66Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
67Koen De Kort (Ned) Trek - Segafredo  
68Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij0:00:33 
69Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
70Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick - Step Floors  
71Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick - Step Floors  
72Nathan Earle (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy0:00:44 
73Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
74Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:49 
75Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy0:01:32 
76Hamish Schreurs (NZl) Israel Cycling Academy  
77Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek - Segafredo0:01:35 
78Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
79Jacobus Venter (RSA) Dimension Data0:01:49 
80Tyler Williams (USA) Israel Cycling Academy0:01:52 
81Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:01:59 
82Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott  
83Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport0:02:02 
84José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha Alpecin  
85Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Quick - Step Floors0:02:52 
86Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Trek - Segafredo  
87Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
88Sam Crome (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia  
89Jonathan Dibben (GBr) Team Sky  
90Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek - Segafredo  
91George Bennett (NZl) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
92Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb  
93Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data0:03:02 
94Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky  
95Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
96Timothy Roe (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia  
97Ben O'Connor (Aus) Dimension Data  
98Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:05:00 
99Nathan Elliot (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia0:05:04 
DNFPeter Kennaugh (GBr) Bora - Hansgrohe  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora - Hansgrohe  
DNFRudiger Selig (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe  
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFDaan Olivier (Ned) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo  
DNFTim Ariesen (Ned) Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFAaron Gate (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFMichael Rice (Aus) Kordamentha Real Estate - Australia  
DNSPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb  

Related Articles

Back to top