Sam Bennett of Deceuninck-Quick Step celebrated his second stage victory in the UAE Tour at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai on Friday.
The Irishman clinched the penultimate stage from the Confidis’ Italian rider Elia Viviani, who had already won twice on the same finish line in the past, and German Pascal Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe in a bunch sprint finish.
Jumbo-Visma’s Dutch rider David Dekker was fourth ahead of the UAE Team Emirates Colombian Fernando Gaviria.
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar retained the overall lead from the defending champion Adam Yates Ineos Grenadiers with the Portuguese Joao Almeida of Deceuninck-QuickStep in third.
"It's down to my teammates and the very fast bike that I've won two bunch sprints out of two," Bennett, who also won the Stage 4 of the race, said
“The guys are very experienced and the more sprints we do, the more it’s becoming like second nature. We started the run-in really smooth. I’m delighted I could finish the job.
“In the finale, I saw Ackermann on the right then I knew I had a strong guy behind me. So I said to myself: ‘don’t leave it too late’. Then I realised it was the green jersey behind me. But I just focused on my own sprint. I came out at the right time.
“Tomorrow, a hat trick would mean a lot. I really wanted to start the season well. Now I have the confirmation that what I was doing at training was just right. I’m really proud to get two stages here.
“I don’t have any plans for [Irish celebration] St-Patrick’s Day. Looking ahead, Milan-Sanremo is always at the back of my mind.”
Pogacar, the overall leader and Stage 3 winner, finished safely in the peloton to retain the red jersey with one stage remaining.
“There were some hard moments with the crosswind, but our team did a good job keeping me safe,” the Slovenian said.
“We were together throughout the stage. I’m happy this is over. We did the sprint [together] with Fernando Gaviria.
“I’m not that kind of guy that gives orders around, but we have a lot of riders who are still more experienced than me and I trust them completely. I don’t have to worry about anything, I just ride my bike. It’s a good team.”
Speaking about Gaviria’s fifth place, the Tour de France winner, added: “This is a sign that he’s coming back.
“Tomorrow he has one more chance and will feel more confident he can do a really good sprint again. Fifth is quite good among really good sprinters, so I think he’s coming back.”
Saturday’s final stage around the city of Abu Dhabi, departs from Yas Mall on Yas Island and finishes at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater for the last sprint finish of the tour.
Stage 6 results:
1 Sam Bennett (IRL) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:32:23
2 Elia Viviani (ITA) Cofidis
3 Pascal Ackermann (GER) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 David Dekker (NED) Jumbo-Visma
5 Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL) UAE Team Emirates
1 Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates 20:41:59
2 Adam Yates (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:35
3 João Almeida (POR) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:02
4 Chris Harper (AUS) Jumbo-Visma 0:01:44
5 Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 0:01:46