Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the sprint into the Piata Mare of Sibiu on the opening day of the Sibiu Cycling Tour. The Irishman had room to spare as he crossed the line ahead of a Lotto Dstny duo, Milan Menton finishing second and Michael Schwarzmann.
Bennett launched his move on the uphill cobbled section of the historic city centre, accelerating from behind the slipstream of Schwarzmann. Menton attacked from behind Filippo Fiorelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Fainzanè and Davide Bomboi (TdT-Unibet) and then came around his teammate to fall short of the catch.
“It was a team effort to win today. They controlled the race all day and put me in the position I wanted to go for it alone in the final kilometer. I really needed that win at this crucial point of my season,” Bennett said.
It was his first appearance at the four-day, five-stage Romanian race. Bennett took control of the yellow leader’s jersey with the victory, his first win since the opening stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in January.
The high heat, tipping over 26 degrees Celsius, and high humidity presented as much of a challenge as the 199km hilly route, which included three categorised climbs. An early breakaway of six riders went clear after the first climb of Dealul Daii just 3.6km from the start – Dominik Bauer (Saris Rouvy Sauerland Team), Daniel Turek (ATT Investments), Jeppe Aaskov Pallesen (HRE Mazowsze Serce Polski), Iustin-Ioan Văidian (MENtoRISE Elite Team), Magnus Brynsrud (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) and Yentl Vandevelde (TDT-Unibet).
The group of six gained time on the peloton on the northern loop of the course, which carried them across the highest point of the day at Pelisor, a 1.9km climb with an average gradient of 5.2%.
Their advantage of six minutes began to deteriorate as they headed back to Sibiu, passing over the Dealul Daii a second time. Vandevelde and Pallesen were the last two to stay away from the break with under 4km to race and it was then time for the sprinter’s to get into position.
“The breakaway was strong, and they were riding 200 km in the heat. I didn’t expect the heat to catch me out as much as it did, and these finals are really aggressive,” Bennett said. “I will be going full gas tomorrow again to do my best for Schachi and the other climbers in the team.”
Bauer earned the mountain classification jersey. In addition to the yellow jersey, Bennett took the points classification lead, so Menten will wear the points jersey on stage 2.
Friday’s stage 2 begins in Sibiu and covers 155km to Bâlea Lac, with a 23.6km final climb to the mountaintop finish.
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