Santos Tour Down Under
Stage 5) Glenelg - Victor Harbor
Third top 3 for Bennett at Tour Down Under
Stage 5 promised fireworks and delivered them in the last 24 kilometers, once the riders began tackling Kerby Hill, a second-category ascent averaging 5.9%, where the race exploded. Desperate to drop the sprinters and thus get in the fight for bonus seconds at the finish, the GC contenders moved to the front of the peloton and put in a massive tempo that split the bunch halfway up the climb.
Under their strong impetus on the hardest part of the hill, the gap of the newly-formed group went out to 25 seconds, forcing those behind to organise a strong chase on the fast descent to Victor Harbor. Deceuninck – Quick-Step sent several delegates to the front of this group, which began chewing into the advantage of the leaders, who despite their all-out effort were joined by the sprinters inside the last ten kilometers.
The technical finale once again disrupted the lead-out trains, splits forming in the peloton on the two sharp corners that peppered the closing kilometer, and leaving just two riders to fight for victory. Despite an impressive burst of acceleration after some great piloting from Michael Mørkøv, Sam Bennett managed just third, behind Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) and Simone Consonni (Cofidis).
“We left it late this time, but a gap opened up in the last corner, which was then hard to close. Today we tried some new things in the final, so overall it was a good learning curve. I am happy with how I felt on the climb, with the form I had here and the team’s incredible work. We still have to fine-tune some small details, but I think we can be satisfied with the week we had here”, the 29-year-old said after his third podium of the season.
Going into the final stage to Willunga Hill on Saturday, Dries Devenyns and Mattia Cattaneo are Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s best placed riders in the general classification, lying just a few seconds outside the top 10.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images