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Bennett follows path of Roche and Kelly

By Robert Jones

Irishman Sam Bennett took victory on stage three of Paris-Nice for his first World Tour victory.

The 26-year-old Bora-Hansgrohe rider held off some of the world's best sprinters to win ahead of Norway's Alexander Kristoff of Katusha-Alpecin and German John Degenkolb of Trek-Segafredo.

Quick-Step Floors' Marcel Kittel looked the favourite going into the final metres of the 190km stage from Chablis to Chalon-sur-Saone, but it was Bennett who burst forward as the German settled for fourth.

"I had a lot of confidence coming into this just from the feeling in my legs," Bennett commented.

"I've had good form recently, at the Tour Down Under I had the speed but I didn't get the opportunities.

"I knew with a bit of luck today and the support of my team something was possible."

To emphasise the depth of the sprinting field, Australian Michael Matthews finished fifth for Team Sunweb, with Andre Greipel seventh for Lotto Soudal.

Bennett, who grew up in Tipperary, is the first Irishman to win a stage of Paris-Nice, known as the 'Race to the Sun', since Stephen Roche in 1989. Sean Kelly was the overall winner in seven consecutive editions from 1982 to 1988.

FDJ's Arnaud Demare finished sixth to retain the overall lead by six seconds from fellow Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors. Alaphilippe's Irish team-mate Dan Martin is ninth in the General Classification, 23 seconds back.

Meanwhile, Team Sky yesterday published a letter and supporting documents sent by principal Sir Dave Brailsford to Damian Collins MP, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, in which Brailsford reiterated his belief that the team was not guilty of breaching anti-doping rules.

Graham McWilliam, the chairman of the Team Sky board, then used Twitter to say the board remained "100% behind team and Sir Dave Brailsford" following suggestions some riders wanted the team principal to resign.

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