Bennett's belief growing with Tour win

Sam Bennett's hoping for more success in South Australia after winning the TDU's first stage.
Sam Bennett's hoping for more success in South Australia after winning the TDU's first stage.

Sam Bennett is hopeful, rather than confident, he has more Tour Down Under stage wins in him this week.

But the Irish road race champion's self-belief is growing after he upstaged his rival sprinters on stage one to claim his first win for Deceuninck Quick-Step, having joined the team last month.

Australian star Caleb Ewan (Trek-Segafredo), Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Andre Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) were all left in Bennett's wake as he narrowly beat Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) across the line.

The five-time Grand Tour stage winner was Deceuninck Quick-Step's biggest signing in the off-season, joining after a long battle to get out of his previous deal with Bora-Hansgrohe.

He is one of four new riders in the seven-strong team in South Australia this year and one of 11 in the overall squad, which has been renowned for its self-styled "wolfpack" approach in recent years.

Bennett predicted that attitude would help set-up more chances for Tour Down Under success in the near future.

"There's so many new riders, but still it keeps that 'wolfpack' characteristic, which is amazing to see," Bennett said.

"The team still rode the same (on stage one) and I think it's the experience of the other guys.

"I think the team has more confidence in me than I do in myself.

"The way they rode for me was absolutely amazing and I think that gives me confidence as well, seeing how much effort they put into the result.

"It's great to have it (the stage win) now."

Bennett was eager to be in the mix at the end of stage two, a 135.8km route from Woodside to Stirling.

The stage includes four loops of Woodside and surrounds before taking on the popular 'Gills circuit' and a sprint finish into Stirling.

"It's early in the season and I do think I need a bit more form, but I should be able to manage and hopefully be there to sprint," Bennett said, adding that he now had a taste for victory.

"I'd really like to get more."

Australian Associated Press