Kiwi Bennett rides into yellow jersey at Tour of California
Los Angeles (AFP) – Britain’s Jonathan Dibben won the sixth stage of the Tour of California in Big Bear Lake on Friday while Kiwi George Bennett took over the yellow jersey with surprising time trial performance.
The 27-year-old Bennett is considered a climbing specialist so his blazing time trial ride through the San Bernardino National Forest was unexpected.
“No one expected this less than I did,” said Bennett, of Nelson on New Zealand’s southern island. “After yesterday I was so disappointed. Today I can’t believe it man, I just went.
“The guy on radio doesn’t get excited about much but halfway through he just lit up and I knew I had a good time. When I crossed the line all the cameras started coming and I thought maybe I did something good.”
Bennett, of the LottoNL-Jumbo team, finished fourth in the stage that relegated teammate Rafal Majka from the first place in the overall standings.
Sky’s Dibben, 23, won the 24-kilometre (14 mile) stage by signing for his first victory on the World Tour circuit.
Brent Bookwalter (BMC) finished second after his strong ride against the clock and Mt. Baldy climb winner Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) placed third in the time trial.
That leaves Bennett with a 35-second overall lead on Poland’s Majka going into the seventh and final stage.
The race concludes Saturday in downtown Pasadena following a 123km ride that begins at Mountain High ski hill in the San Bernardino mountains.
“It is not going to be a parade lap,” said Bennett. “It is going to be full gas racing.”