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Sam Bennett sprints to fifth place in European Championships road race

Fabio Jakobsen of the Netherlands won gold in Munich.

Sam Bennett led the five-man Irish team alongside Ryan Mullen, Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend and Matthew Taggart.
Sam Bennett led the five-man Irish team alongside Ryan Mullen, Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend and Matthew Taggart.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

SAM BENNETT WAS at the heart of a thrilling final sprint as Fabio Jakobsen of the Netherlands won gold in the men’s road race at the European Championships.

After an excellent performance by the five-strong Irish team throughout, Bennett was left to do it alone with no lead-out train for the final sprint, and forced his way through to finish in fifth place.

Arnaud Demare of France took second behind Jakobsen with Belgium’s Tim Merlier in third.

“It was great to be back in the mix again,” Bennett told Cycling Ireland afterwards.

“A bit upset with myself that I didn’t try to take Fabio’s wheel behind Demare. I kinda gambled a bit to see if maybe they would go too early and I could come later, but in the end, my team-mate from BORA-hansgrohe, Danny van Poppel, did an amazing leadout for Fabio and they ended up getting the win.

“I think I was in the right place but I needed to be one or two places up with a clean run at it.

“We’ll take fifth. It’s progress on the road back to the highest level.

“I just want to thank the guys. They did a perfect job today. They looked after me the whole way through.”

Winner of a stage at the Tour de France in July, Jakobsen jumped out of Merlier’s slipstream to clinch victory right at the line.

“I’m delighted to be European champion,” said the Dutchman who lost all his teeth in a crash at the Tour of Poland in 2020.

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The race featured most of the World Tour elite with only Wout van Aert missing from the line up.

The Italian team had seemed well positioned to get Elia Viviani in the mix, but he could only manage seventh place.

The 25-year-old Jakobsen came close to ending his career in Poland but has recovered to become one the most feared sprinters in road cycling and said after winning on his first appearance Tour in July, “It’s like a second life”.

“It’s been a long road for me to get here, if only you knew,” said Jakobsen, who underwent five hours of surgery the day he crashed over barriers and hit a metal post head on.

– Additional reporting © AFP 2022

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