George Bennett has shown his strength ahead of the Vuelta a Espana, lighting up the Tour of Poland with a series of attacks on the final climb of stage six.

It wasn't quite enough for the stage win, with the Kiwi climber being caught with just under a kilometre to go, but Bennett's attacks, coupled with his ability to then stay with the leaders when caught, shows a rider in good form - though hopefully for him, not too good form - for the Vuelta.

Unlike most sports, where it is a term aimlessly thrown around with no logical backing, "peaking too early" is a legitimate concept in cycling, and Bennett came into the Tour of Poland hoping for some good stress-free results, while still having enough left in the tank to peak during the latter stages of the Vuelta.

Whether he can do the latter is obviously still to be seen, but the former goal is well and truly accomplished after he proved his potency on stage six.


Bennett's eventual seventh place finish - on the same time as winner Georg Preidler - keeps him in third overall, with just one stage remaining for the 28-year-old to claim just his second podium finish in a World Tour stage race.

The first, of course, was his victory at the Tour of California last year, and for a while it looked like Bennett was a chance at pushing for an unexpected shot at Polish glory as well.

With 3.3 kilometres to go on a hilly stage, Bennett launched off a train of his remaining LottoNL-Jumbo teammates, Enrico Battaglin and Floris De Tier.

He was swiftly caught, but went again on the final climb, which averaged a 6.5 per cent gradient. Team Sky's Sergio Luiz Henao was battling to control the gap for teammate and race leader Michal Kwiatkowski, and although he briefly negated the threat, Bennett had more juice left in the tank, escaping for a third time and taking a five second gap over top of the climb.

His hopes of a first individual stage win as a professional rider came up short, as attacks from behind saw him reigned in with a kilometre to go, at which point Preidler counter-attacked and snuck away from what was left of a group decimated by Bennett's attacks to take his debut World Tour stage win.

Bennett recovered his energy to finish within the nine riders all crossing the line with the same time as Preidler, with Kwiatkowski finishing in third to extend his overall lead to 16 seconds over defending champion Dylan Teuns.

Bennett remains in third overall, 24 seconds behind, and one second ahead of Emanuel Buchmann.

A similar finish awaits the riders in the Tour's final stage tomorrow, and Bennett looks a strong possibility for one final trip to the podium.


Niall Anderson watched the race on a Polish stream and is now fluent in the language. (On jest zdecydowanie przegrany)