Bennett wins second Vuelta stage, Teunissen leads overall

Netherlands' Mike Teunissen crossing the finish line. (Christophe Ena/AP)

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch fans got a surprise treat as Mike Teunissen grabbed the overall leader’s red jersey in the Spanish Vuelta, and Sam Bennett of Ireland won the sprint finish in the second stage Saturday. 

Defending champion Primoz Roglic stayed near the top of the standings.

Teunissen came in fourth place at the final sprint to become the second Dutch leader in the overall standings after his Jumbo-Visma teammate Robert Gesink led after the first stage.

“Actually, it wasn’t the plan. I’ve been saying already for a lot of days that we’re mainly here to take care of Primoz,” Teunissen said. “This morning the guys surprised me a bit saying that if it all went as planned and Primoz went safe into the last 3 kilometers we could see if I could be the one crossing the line first. In my home country, with a lot of people cheering, it’s really amazing for me and for everyone.”

Bennett beat Mads Pedersen and Tim Merlier at the line for his first Grand Tour stage win since the 2020 Vuelta. 

“I knew I’d do it again, it was just a matter of getting the right legs,” Bennett said. “I’m quite happy with my level but I think experience and the guys made a difference today. There might be another sprint tomorrow. We’ll go in with the same hunger again.”

Roglic, trying to win an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, stayed within the main peloton and ranked fourth in the standings, behind Sam Oomen, Edoardo Affini and Teunissen, all with the same time.

Slovenia’s Roglic is trying to join Spaniard Roberto Heras (2000, 2003-05) as the only rider to win four Vuelta titles.

Ottawa’s Michael Woods riding for Israel-Premier Tech was 29th on Saturday. Teammates Itamar Einhorn sprinted to seventh and Daryl Impey crashed in the final kilometre.

Woods, 35, is a two-time Vuelta stage winner and finished seventh overall in 2017. He placed third last month in the Tour de France’s 16th stage won by fellow-Canadian and teammate Hugo Houle. 

Testing positive for COVID-19 forced Woods out of the Tour de France’s final day.

The Vuelta’s first three stages are taking place in the Netherlands after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted plans for the Vuelta to race there the last two years.

Sunday’s third stage will be a flat route finishing with a sprint to the line. 

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