Cycling (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
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 teammate Primoz Roglic’s bid to win the Tour de France later this month.
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.
Final results from the Gran Piemonte
1. George Bennett (NZL) Team Jumbo-Visma 4hr 38min 23sec, 2. Diego Ulissi (ITA) UAE Team Emirates same time, 3. Mathieu van der Poel (NED) Alpecin-Fenix at 4sec