Sam Bennett disqualified after claiming 'victory' in stage 9 of Vuelta a Espana
And you thought waiting for VAR was bad? More than an hour after he crossed the winning line as the clear victor of stage nine of this year’s Tour of Spain in Aguilar, Irish cyclist Sam Bennett was disqualified for barging during the sprint.
Pascal Ackermann of Germany was declared the winner after race referees reviewed footage of the finale following a protest from the Trek team. The Carrick-on-Suir rider did nudge a rival from Trek out of the way in the charge to the line, but it seemed minimal contact on a rider who was trying to go where there was no room to go.
Since the horrific finish-line crash earlier this year that could have cost Bennett’s Dutch team-mate Fabio Jakobsen his life, race referees have been coming down hard on riders who barge into opponents. Peter Sagan was relegated at the end of a Tour de France, charged with a similar offence - and now it has cost Bennett here.
The 30-year-old will doubtless go again, with renewed determination, in Friday’s stage to Suances. There, he will hope to secure two things he thought he had won today, his 50
th career win and the 100
th stage success in Grand Tours for his Deceuninck Quick-Step team.
Bennett will take consolation in the fact that his stage win last week, and this sprint in Aguilar, proves he is the fastest man in the race in the flying finishes. He will surely carry on, in what is a very mountainous race, to Sunday week’s finish in Madrid.
There, Bennett would hope to secure a fabulous hat-trick. He won the last stage of the Giro in Rome, outside the Colosseum, in 2018 and won the last stage of this year’s Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees last month. A win in the centre of Madrid on the last stage would give Bennett three fabulous triumphs to savour.