Sam Bennett wins stage 3 of Vu...

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Sam Bennett wins stage 3 of Vuelta as Nicolas Roche retains race lead

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Sam Bennett's incredible year continued today with victory on stage 3 of the Vuelta a Espana. 

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider won in a sprint finish to Alicante, beating Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) to the line.

The win is Bennett's first ever on the Vuelta, and his twelfth different stage victory of 2019.

He won three stages of last year's Giro D'Italia but was forced to sit out this year's Giro with Pascal Ackermann preferred, while Peter Sagan pipped him to the sprinter's place in the Tour de France.

It continues a fine start to the Vuelta from an Irish perspective, with Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) retaining the leader's red jersey with a 2-second lead over Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team)

Bennett thanked his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates for today's victory after what was a difficult day on stage 2 for the 28-year old. He told Eurosport after the race, "I can't tell you how relieved I am with that.

"I kinda felt so bad yesterday, and I can't tell you how bad my legs were on the stage. Whether I went easy or hard they felt bad.

"Thanks to the team, I could relax and just follow them and really trust them. They got me in the right place at the right time to make my effort and if it wasn't for the team effort today I definitely wouldn't have got it [the stage win]".

Bennett held off pressure from Theuns and Mezgec late-on, but felt his momentum and kicking first in the final strait meant he was always going to pip the others to the line.

The Carrick-on-Suir rider says he feels extra pride to win as Irish national champion, "I'm just delighted to get it. It means a lot to get another grand tour victory, especially in the Irish national champ's jersey."

Roche will wear the leader's red jersey for tomorrow's fourth stage which will take the peloton from Cullera to El Puig. He finished safely within the peloton this afternoon.

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Cyling Nairo Quintana Nicolas Roche Sam Bennett Vuelta Vuelta A Espana