Bennett relegated after Vuelta stage win

·2-min read

Sam Bennett's brilliant season hit a major setback when the Irishman was relegated after sprinting to victory in the ninth stage of the Vuelta a Espana, leaving original runner-up, Germany's Pascal Ackermann, to be promoted to victory.

Bennett thought he had raced to a second win of the Vuelta, an eighth win of the season and the 50th of his career as he looked far too good for his rivals in the denouement, even having time to sit up and celebrate his win as he crossed the line.

But after studying footage of the race, captured by the TV helicopter, Bennett was relegated after twice shoulder barging another rider, Trek-Segafredo's Latvian Emils Liepins, in the run-in to the finish line.

Bennett appeared to try to shove Liepins, who was trying to get onto the back of his sprint train, out of the way as he sought to keep his position in the bunch.

Twenty five minutes after the stage finished, race commissaires awarded the stage to Ackermann, with Gerben Thijssen (Lotto-Soudal) promoted to second and Sunweb's Max Kanter third.

Patrick Lefevere, director of Bennett's Deceuninck Quick-Step team, raged against the decision on social media but Ackermann felt justice had been done.

"It wasn't a fair action from him (Bennett). I think, after all the crashes in the last week, we have to take care of the other guys," said the German.

"I feel sorry for Sam, but now we have to ride more fair. I'm really happy about this victory and also for my team, they did an awesome job today, they did it all from the front and I'm happy to give something back to them."

Bennett had always looked in command once he found the room to burst through at the end of the 157.7-kilometre stage from Castrillo del Val.

In the mass sprint for the line, Australian Robert Stannard, of Mitchelton-Scott, came home ninth.

There were no major changes in the overall standings, with Richard Carapaz maintaining a 13-second lead over defending champion Primoz Roglic.

The leading Australian is still Mitchelton-Scott's Nick Schultz, who lies 35th while Team Sunweb's Rob Power is 47th.

Roglic, on his 31st birthday, needed a bicycle change with about 13 kilometres left because of a mechanical issue but was able to rejoin the peloton.