Bennett is back on top
August 20 th 2022 - 17:45
Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the strongest sprinter to win stage 2 of La Vuelta 22, in Utrecht. The Irish man claims his second victory this year and his first Grand Tour win since 2020, already in La Vuelta, the three-week event where he’s been the most successful with a total of four triumphs. Bennett outsprinted Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck). Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) finished 4th and took La Roja, the leader’s red jersey, from his teammate and Dutch compatriot Robert Gesink. On Sunday, he will enjoy it on home soil with a 3rd stage set around Breda.
The peloton set off from ’s-Hertogenbosch with 182 riders and many attackers willing to make the first break of La Vuelta 22. After 3km, Pau Miquel (Kern Pharma) makes sure he’ll have a special 22nd birthday as he joins four riders at the front: Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH), Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Thibault Guernalec (Arkea-Samsic). The break is on!
Merlier's teammates control the early break
Their lead is up to 5’05’’ when Alpecin-Deceuninck start driving the chase, 15km into the stage. Tim Merlier’s teammates control the gap around 2 minutes and accelerate again to bring the attackers' lead down to 10’’ as the race enters the last 100km.
The gap slightly increases again, furthermore since the early attackers launch a hard battle for the KOM points of the day, up the Amerongseberg (cat-4, km 105.1). Van den Berg sprints to the summit, ahead of Guernalec, and the Dutchman secures the polka-dot jersey for himself.
Mate goes for the counter-attack
After the climb, the gap is back up to 1 minute but Alpecin-Deceuninck accelerate again. The early attackers are eventually caught with 59km to go. Some 14km later, it’s time for Luis Angel Mate (Euskaltel-Euskadi) to set off at the front of the race.
The Spanish baroudeur, who committed to donate a tree to reforest the Sierra Bermeja for each km he would spend at the front of La Vuelta 22, enters the last 40km with a lead of 30’’. The gap is up to 35’’ with 30km to go.
Bennett and Teunissen take glory
The tension in the bunch increases towards the final rush to Utrecht, and so does the pace. Mate is eventually caught with 21km to go.
Nobody else gets away until the final sprint, dominated by Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), ahead of Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Tim Merlier. Mike Teunissen sprints to the 4th place and becomes the second Dutch leader of La Vuelta 22 in two days of racing on Dutch soil, after his teammate and compatriot Robert Gesink.