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Sam Bennett claims first victory of the season at Four Days of Dunkirk

Sam Bennett took his first victory of the season on Wednesday, blasting home ahead of the bunch on stage two of the Four Days of Dunkirk in France.

The Carrick-on-Suir rider judged things perfectly in the final sprint, tracking the Belgian Sasha Weemaes (Bingoal WB) when he launched and then coming off that wheel to easily pass his former teammate Pascal Ackermann (Israel Premier Tech).

Frenchman Paul Penhoët took second and Weemaes held on for third.Bennett's success ends a long wait for victory, with his last wins being two stages of the Sibiu Cycling Tour in July 2023. His relief was evident, with the 33 year old yelling as he raised both arms in celebration, then hugging his Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale teammates.

"It was a beautiful sprint. I am very happy to bring this victory to the team," he said. "They gave me this amazing opportunity this year to come on board.

"After the amazing work the boys did today, I am super proud of them and can’t thank them enough."

Double Tour de France stage winner Bennett is the most experienced sprinter in the race but such a status also comes with considerable pressure.

"On paper it is always nice, but you have to go and do it then," he said.

Third yesterday, the time bonuses for both stages now put him into the overall lead. He is four seconds clear of stage one winner Milan Fretin (Cofidis) and eight ahead of Penhoët heading into Thursday’s mainly flat 165.1km race to Bouchain.

It is another likely sprint stage and his team will ride to defend the overall lead and try to help him take another victory.

"We have a lot of experience here, and some guys with incredible results," Bennett said. "It is a real privilege to have them on board and work with them. You have a nice seat to the finish."

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