Sam Bennett of Bora won stage three of the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday, as he was again fastest in a sprint at the end of an almost entirely flat 193.2km run around Breda.
The Irishman, who also won Saturday’s stage, tightened his hold on the sprint points green jersey by edging out Mads Pedersen and Dan McLay on the last of three days in the Netherlands.
“It was a hard fight with some tough moments,” said Bennett, whose barren patch has been forgotten with two consecutive winning performances.
Dutch team Jumbo-Visma finished the stage with a third different rider in the overall leader’s red jersey with Italy’s Edoardo Affini top of the rankings.
Bennett was jostled out of position on the run-in but his lead-out man Danny van Poppel powered late up the left to deliver his leader with split-second timing.
“Danny, it was a masterclass,” Bennett said.
His winning time of 4hrs 05min 53sec means the peloton rode the stage at around 46kph despite some windy conditions on a cool summer’s day at 20C.
Ineos had a stressful moment when their leader Richard Carapaz fell 20km from the line, but he eventually finished with the main bunch.
“Richard had a small crash, I think he’ll be alright,” said teammate Ethan Hayter.
Of the favourites to win the overall title, defending champion Primoz Roglic of Jumbo is best-placed with Carapaz just 13sec off the Slovenian’s pace.
Remco Evenepoel, the 22-year-old Belgian, is at 14sec while 2018 Vuelta champion Simon Yates is 31sec off the lead with current Giro champion Jai Hindley at 41sec.
Jumbo won the team time-trial on day one by a clear 13sec, and with flat stages suited to bunch sprints over the weekend, were able to set up a situation whereby they have shared the overall lead between team members.
Two Dutch riders from Jumbo took the honours in the first two stages in Robert Gesink and Mike Teunissen.
“The team had it thought out from the beginning,” said Affini.
“It was very nice of them to do that. Imagine how it felt for the Dutch lads?” said the Italian.
Another Dutch rider Julius van den Berg, retained the climb points jersey.
Israel-Premier Tech leader Michael Woods pulled out of the race after taking a nasty knock to the head in a fall inside the first hour.
He was taken to hospital with grazing but no broken bones.
Now the Vuelta heads home to Spain with a transit on Monday followed by stages four to nine in the Basque Country and Asturias, all over rugged hilly or mountainous terrain.
Tuesday’s stage four is a 152km ride in medium mountains between Vitoria and Laguardia.