Irish sprinter Sam Bennett took his second victory of Paris-Nice as he won Thursday’s stage five in Bollene.
Bennett was made to fight for position on the approach to the sprint but once the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider lit it up, no-one else could get close as he won by a bike length from Nacer Bouhanni. Bennett, who also won the opening stage, complained that rivals had been trying to block his path late in the 200km stage from Vienne.
“The guys were incredible today,” he said. “I was suffering in the last few kilometres. I don’t know what it is - people won’t let me follow my own train here. It’s frustrating. I got back on before the last roundabout but it was a very hard final and I didn’t think I’d hold out to the line. The guys did an incredible job and I’m proud I could finish it off.”
Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic leads the race by 31 seconds from Max Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe going into the more testing final three days. However, changes are expected to be announced to the upcoming route, with authorities in Nice calling for Sunday’s planned finale on the Promenade des Anglais to be moved due to an ongoing lockdown.
At Tirreno-Adriatico, defending champion Simon Yates lost more than a minute on stage two, having joined a breakaway group that was swallowed up on the final climb to Chiusdino.
The Team BikeExchange rider was caught inside the final kilometre of the 7.5km rise to the line as a pack led by the Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas stepped up the pace.
Thomas was chasing down Joao Almeida, but in doing so provided the perfect lead-out for the Portuguese’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team-mate Julian Alaphilippe to take the stage win.
Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert continues to lead overall, four seconds ahead of Alaphilippe, with Thomas 13th overall, 14 seconds back.
Team BikeExchange’s Yates now sits in 58th, one minute 34 seconds down.
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