Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 2 of the 2022 Vuelta a España.

Sam Bennett ends his drought with Vuelta stage 2 victory

The Irishman's redemption tour begins with a hotly contested bunch sprint victory on the first road stage of the Vuelta a España.

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Sam Bennett punched to stage victory on the first road stage of the 2022 Vuelta a España, taking his first Grand Tour stage victory since 2020 and silencing his doubters at the first opportunity.

After a predictable opening team time trial, stage 2 brought with it the first chance for the Vuelta’s sprinters. It was a pan-flat and slightly bizarre 175-kilometre race between ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht, thanks largely to the perplexing pace-setting of Alpecin-Deceuninck behind the five-man breakaway, which was caught almost 60 km from the finish.

Luis Angel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacked solo and played point man for about 25 km – which proved useful for the whole peloton as team cars got a preview of the dodgy road furniture 30 seconds in advance of the rest of the bunch – and he too was caught in time for the technical final kilometres into Utrecht.

There were a few sweeping turns to unsettle the nerves on the run-in, but all the favourites looked to be well positioned for the bunch gallop. It was a hotly contested sprint, with Mads Pedersen leading the drag race for the line in the last few hundred metres, but Sam Bennett had been beautifully guided by Danny van Poppel, and the Irishman took the win.

“It was a difficult period with Sam, but I always believed in him,” Van Poppel said after the stage, acknowledging Bennett’s turbulent couple of seasons. “So you see that it can turn around in one go. I have to say: he is a lot better than in other competitions. I actually thought he went a little too early, after I started the sprint really well for him. But it’s great that he finishes it.”

Pedersen held on for a close second, while pre-stage favourite Tim Merlier settled for third.

The red jersey also changed hands as overnight leader Robert Gesink passed it on to teammate Mike Teunissen after getting caught behind a split – times were later neutralised for Gesink’s group, but their finishing positions still put Teunissen in red – while the KOM jersey was claimed by breakaway rider Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost).

La Vuelta ciclista a España (2.UWT) 's-Hertogenbosch → Utrecht

BENNETT Sam
1
BENNETT Sam BORA - hansgrohe
2
PEDERSEN Mads Trek - Segafredo
3
MERLIER Tim Alpecin-Deceuninck
4
TEUNISSEN Mike Jumbo-Visma
5
ACKERMANN Pascal UAE Team Emirates
6
MCLAY Daniel Team Arkéa Samsic
7
EINHORN Itamar Israel - Premier Tech
8
STEWART Jake Groupama - FDJ
9
DEGENKOLB John Team DSM
10
GROVES Kaden Team BikeExchange - Jayco

TEUNISSEN Mike

BENNETT Sam

VAN DEN BERG Julius

HAYTER Ethan

Jumbo-Visma

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