Mon, Sep 09, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Mass crash gives Ireland’s Bennett stage 14 victory

AFP, MADRID

Team Bora-Hansgrohe rider Sam Bennett of Ireland crosses the finish line of the 14th stage of the Vuelta a Espana, a 188km race from San Vicente de la Barquera to Ovieda in Spain on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Ireland’s Sam Bennett on Saturday launched a sudden attack in the direct aftermath of a mass crash on the home straight to win stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espana at Oviedo, Spain.

Overall leader Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic missed the crash, but was slowed down by it and remains 2 minutes, 25 seconds in the lead with two monster mountain stages yesterday and today.

World champion and second-placed Alejandro Valverde and third-placed Tadej Pogacar ended up with cuts and bruises in the crash in a dramatic culmination of what had been expected to be a bunch sprint.

“I knew they’d be going full gas. I was lucky to avoid it,” an exhausted-looking Roglic said.

After winning the first flat stage in Valencia last week, Irish champion Bennett set off after Max Richeze of Team Deceuninck Quick-Step and Tosh Van der Sande of Team Lotto Soudal, as they suddenly found themselves advancing toward the line, with Bennett burning them off with ease.

He raised one finger in a tentative celebration at the line and later said he was asking if he had won.

“Because I wasn’t expecting to be in the mix, I wasn’t concentrating and didn’t know if the breakaway had been caught or made it home,” Bennett said. “I just kind of found myself in a small group after the crash and bided my time because they were going too fast.”

“At 300m I went for it, because I just wanted to get it over,” Bennett said.

In bright sunshine with a clement 21°C, the peloton had embarked on the third of six flat stages (out of 21) from Vicente de la Barquera, Spain, and wound through a series of picturesque seaside towns and the lush rolling countryside of the Asturias region.

With the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian mountains providing a spectacular backdrop, a small breakaway got a slight lead and clung on until the outskirt of Oviedo.

A slight narrowing of the road appeared to be the cause of the crash just as the sprinters began to jostle for position, and a shoulder charge from one rider sent a ripple of panic across the peloton just as it was hitting top speed 1km from the line.

Roglic, who seized control of the overall Vuelta lead by pulverizing his rivals on the individual time-trial in the middle of last week, further demoralized other pretenders on Friday by thriving on the hors categorie ascent to the Los Machucos summit finish.

Pogocar is at 3 minutes, 1 second, followed by Miguel Angel Lopez in fourth at 3:37 and Nairo Quintana in fifth at 5:21. Each will be considering a move to reduce that deficit over the next two days.

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