Bennett grabs fifth sprint of season to win Bruges-La Panne

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Sam Bennett continued his early-season sprint dominance with victory in the Bruges-La Panne classic on Wednesday.

The Irishman, who rides for Deceuninck Quick Step, edged Belgian Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin and German Pascal Ackermann of Bora to win the race formerly known as Three Days of La Panne.

It was his fifth victory of the season in only his seventh mass sprint in World Tour races.

Bennett, 30, dominated the sprints in both the multi-day races he has ridden this year, winning twice each on the Tour of the UAE and in Paris-Nice. This victory marked a breakthrough.

"It's my first one-day World Tour win," Bennett said. "It's something I've been chasing for many years and I'm very happy to get it here today."

Protected during the 203km race by Frenchman Floran Senechal, Bennett was led out by Danish teammate Michael Morkov at the 200m mark, catching Philipsen who had launched his sprint at 400 metres but was unable to cope with the headwind.

"He jumped early but I could feel a bit of a headwind so I decided to wait longer and then go," said Bennett. "I don't focus on anyone else, I just do my own sprint."

He said he felt the route was dangerous.

"There are too many traffic islands," he said. "It makes the riders very nervous."

The race is the first of the Flanders spring classics which continue on Friday with the E3 Harelbeke.

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