Sam Bennett celebrated his first Vuelta a Espana stage win as compatriot Nicolas Roche maintained his race lead on another fine day for the Irish.

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Bennett's three prior Grand Tour stage victories all came at the 2018 Giro d'Italia, but he added a breakthrough Spanish triumph on Monday.

The sprinter was among the favourites for the 188-kilometre ride to Alicante and delivered in fine fashion, his pace too much for the other contenders in the final stretch.

Bora-Hansgrohe were well placed, alongside Team Sunweb, heading into the final 1.5km and a bold move from Trek-Segafredo created an opening for Bennett.

He darted clear and won by two bike lengths in a time of four hours, 25 minutes and two seconds.

It was Bennett's 12th stage victory of the season and Ireland's first at the Vuelta since Roche took stage 18 in 2015.

But Sunweb star Roche was happy to stay out of the limelight after a strong ride on Sunday, settling for a place in the peloton that kept second-placed Nairo Quintana two seconds behind.



Bennett lauded his Bora-Hansgrohe colleagues after the victory, saying: "I felt so bad yesterday, I can't tell you how bad my legs were in the stage.

"The team got me in the right place at the right time. If it wasn't for the team effort today I definitely wouldn't have got it.

"I went with momentum to the left, got on Trek and I knew it was a really fast finish and kicked first. I think Trek waited a little bit too long.

"I'm delighted to get it. It means a lot to take a Grand Tour stage victory, especially in the Irish national champion's jersey."



1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:25:02
2. Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo)
3. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott)
4. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)
5. Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Merida)


General Classification

1. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) 9:51:14
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +00:02
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +00:08

Points Classification

1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 25
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 25
3. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) 20

King of the Mountains

1. Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Burgos BH) 14
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 5
3. Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) 4


For those sprinters who dug in for Monday's ride, the reward is a 175.5km dash from Cullera to El Puig, which should provide opportunity for a frantic finish.