Tour of Britain Stage 5: An Post's Sam Bennett wins in Caerphilly
Sir Bradley Wiggins keeps race lead after late attack from Dan Martin and Nairo Quintana brought back
Sam Bennett of An Post-Chain Reaction Cycles, second to MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek on Stage 2 of the 2013 Tour of Britain on Monday, went one better today as he won the sprint from a small group of around 15 riders to win Stage 5 of the race in Caerphilly this afternoon. Among them was Team Sky's Sir Bradley Wiggins, who retains the race lead with three stages remaining.
Also in that group were Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Michael Golas, who finished second, and Martin Elmiger of IAM, third today.
The final three members of what had been a four-man breakaway group including mountains classification leader Angel Madrazo of Movistar was swept up as the peloton hit the foot of Caerphilly mountain for the first time with around 15km remaining, Team Sky having set the pace at the front of the peloton throughout the 177km stage from Machynlleth.
Also in the break today alongside Madrazo were IG Sigma Sport’s Pete Williams, Jacob Rathe of Garmin-Sharp and Bardiani Valvole’s Stefano Pirazzi, winner of the mountains jersey at the Giro d’Italia in May.
Madrazo tightened his grip on the mountains jersey by taking maximum points on the first two climbs today, Cwm Owen and Brecon Beacon, which like Caerphilly Mountain had been designated Category 1 by organisers.
The escapees' lead tumbled as they headed towards Caerphilly, Williams already dropped by the time they headed past the town's famous castle, being swept up immediately the road began to head uphill as the overall contenders prepared for the finale.
Sky had done more than anyone else to bring them back, but their work wasn't finished.
With a summit finish looming on Haytor on Dartmoor tomorrow, two potential threats to Wiggins' overall ambitions, Garmin Sharp's Dan Martin and Nairo Quintana of Movistar, got away on the second ascent of Caerphilly Mountain.
Martin quickly overhauled Sojasun's David Le Lay, who had got away on the first, 2.3km climb of it minutes beforehand, and was joined by Quintana as they crested the summit.
Shortly after the descent back down to the finish began, a third rider joined them, another danger to Wiggins' lead - Sergio Pardilla of MTN-Qhubeka, the best placed of the trio, weighth overall this morning, 1 minute 18 seconds back.
On the way back down into Caerphilly for the finish, Ian Stannard and David Lopez led the chase for Sky, the group that would contest the win coming back together with around 1.5km remaining, victory going to the 22-year-old Bennett, called up to the Irish squad for the UCI road world championships in Tuscany next week.
"I didn't expect to get second the other day so that was a great result for myself and to get first place today is unbelievable, I can't believe it," reflected Bennett afterwards.
"It's really hard, I was just trying to stay on Sky's wheel or as close as possible to it as I knew they were going to do everything for Brad to keep him safe and sound. I was hanging on there and knew if I got over with them I'd get some places because it's a descent down to the finish and I was able to recover.
"I could see IAM had three guys there and I thought they were going to do something but with 1k to go they all came together and I tried my best to get onto a wheel. Then coming into the last corner, one guy went and I think I was behind a Quick-Step rider [Michal Golas] who was on his wheel, we ran wide in the last corner, it was a bit touch and go there.
"We came out of the corner and I hesitated a little bit then saw 100 to go and thought 'Right I'd better not wait around too long' and had good enough legs to sprint.
"I knew coming here that I was going to be in the shop window and really wanted to show what I'm made of. I've been aiming for this for a few months now, trying to get consistency. I have consistency now at the minute and hopefully now there's more to come."