Team Emirates’ Ulissi grabs podium finish as Bennett wins Gran Piemonte - GulfToday

Team Emirates’ Ulissi grabs podium finish as Bennett wins Gran Piemonte


From left: Second-placed Diego Ulissi, George Bennett and Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin Fenix celebrate on the podium after the 104th edition of the one-day classic cycling race Gran Piemonte between Santo Stefano Belbo and Barolo in Italy on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

New Zealand’s George Bennett warmed up for this weekend’s Tour of Lombardy by winning the Gran Piemonte semi-classic race through northwestern Italy on Wednesday.

The Jumbo-Visma rider pipped Italy’s Diego Ulissi of UAE Team Emirates on the line after the gruelling 187km (116.2 mile) run from Santo Stefano Belbo to Barolo in Piedmont.

Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel finished four seconds back in third, riding for Alpecin-Fenix.

“This is an emotional victory,” said 30-year-old Bennett, who attacked with seven kilometres to go.

“I only have two races in which I can ride for myself this year, today and Il Lombardia on Saturday.

“It’s great to win here. I was afraid the race wasn’t hard enough but my boys made it harder and I went at the right time when it was half raining, half dry.

“I’m super happy.”

It was Bennett’s second win after the Tour of California in 2017, as he prepares to help Slovenian team-mate Primoz Roglic’s bid to win the Tour de France later this month.

“Bennett was the strongest on the climbs today and when he attacked he opened up a gap we were not able to close,” said Ulissi.

“I tried to catch him towards the end, but I didn’t have the legs to follow him uphill.

“I gave everything in the final sprint but it wasn’t enough.”

The 104th edition of the Gran Piemonte followed a tough route along the Langhe hills, in the provinces of Asti and Cuneo, testing the riders with a series of climbs and descents through wine country.

Roglic takes lead: Vuelta a Espana champion Primoz Roglic clinched the overall lead after winning the second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Thursday as Chris Froome continued to struggle on his return to the race.

Four-time Tour de France winner Froome, who was involved in a high-speed crash at last year’s Criterium which almost cost the Team Ineos rider his career, finished in 49th place, 8 minutes 32 seconds behind Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic.

Slovenian Roglic attacked 650m from the finish line to beat France’s Thibaut Pinot in second spot and Germany’s Emanuel Buchmann in third.

Reigning Tour de France champion, and Froome’s Ineos team-mate, Egan Bernal lost his overall lead after the first stage with a 10th place finish trailing by 10 seconds.

This season’s Dauphine has been shortened and moved due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday’s 157km third stage heads east from Corenc near Grenoble to the Alpine village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville.

The Tour de France starts on Aug. 29 with Froome’s participation yet to be confirmed by Ineos before he leaves for Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of the campaign.

Bernal said he wants Froome alongside him at this year’s race, as the Colombian finished third and the British rider a lowly 86th at Wednesday’s opening stage.

Reports in the French and Italian media over the weekend claimed Froome is a doubt to make Ineos’ squad for the Grand Boucle.

“He’s a rider who has a lot of experience. For sure, to have a seven-time Grand Tour winner in the team is something important. So yes, for sure I would like to have him in the team,” Bernal told British broadcaster ITV.

“I’m feeling good but we’ll see tomorrow and during the week. But as we always say the most important thing is to arrive well at ‘le Tour’ that will be our biggest goal,” Bernal added.

Jumbo-Visma’s Wout Van Aert followed up his Milan-Sanremo victory on Sunday by pipping the third-placed Colombian in a sprint finish near Saint-Etienne with South African Daryl Impey in second.

Agence France-Presse

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