Sam Bennett has won the first stage of the 2019 BinckBank Tour. At the finish in Hulst the Irish champion beat Edward Theuns and Mike Teunissen in a bunch sprint. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider also takes the green leader's jersey.
The peloton took the start in Beveren in sunny conditions. From the official start the riders set a searing pace, which meant it would take a long time for a breakaway to get away. After sixty kilometres Baptiste Planckaert, Lars Ytting Bak, Lukasz Wisniowski and Aaron Verwilst finally managed to break free and gather a maximum advantage of almost three minutes.
While the riders didn't have to cope with the usual heavy winds in the area, they were less fortunate with the rain. The sun made way for dark clouds when the riders reached the local loop, rendering the roads very slippery. A mass crash on the cobbles of cut the peloton into four groups with the likes of Arnaud Demare and Bob Jungels having to chase. Eventually the entire pack was reunited.
At the head of the race Baptiste Planckaert took first place twice at the Super 8 Checkpoint Sprints, claiming the beige leader's jersey in the Checkpoint classification. In the Golden Kilometre Lukasz Wisniowski took two first places and one second place in the triple intermediate sprint, gaining eight bonification seconds. It would prove to be the last milestone for the breakaway, which was caught with 2.5 kilometres to go.
A bunch sprint was inevitable, with a great lead-out for Belgian Edward Theuns. He started sprinting in a perfect position, but was caught by a great move around the outside by Sam Bennett. The Irish champion comfortable won the first stage and thus became the first leader of this edition of the BinckBank Tour.