Edward Theuns bettered his third place in the opening stage, but could not solve how to beat the faster legs of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), who claimed his second victory in the Presidential Tour of Turkey Wednesday.
"I am disappointed because the team could not have done it better," said Theuns about the teamwork and leadout in the final kilometers. "I saw in the last straight that Sam (Bennett) was in my wheel, and yeah, there's not much I could do about it. Maybe I went a bit early, but I know that I am not super explosive, so I had to try something. But he was in my wheel so he could come over me. In the end, it's one spot closer than yesterday, so that's positive, but I feel really disappointed because the guys did such a great job. I feel really sad that I cannot give them the reward for their great work."
While most of the 206 kilometers of stage two were a slow march putting the race well behind the slowest schedule, the ending kilometers were fast and furious. Trek-Segafredo again was unparalleled in their sprint train, timing the move to the front to perfection, and leading around the last turn and into the final meters.
But a cagey Bennett also prospered from the Trek-Segafredo leadout, jostling his way onto Theuns' wheel where he had the best launching pad to take his second straight win.
"We stayed really well organized and took our line on the right side of the road," explained Theuns. "(Jarlinson) Pantano came with an acceleration with one and a half [kilometers] to go and took the team to the front. We were still with three or four guys and (Marco) Coledan could go into the last corner in the lead and Boy (van Poppel) was in his wheel and I was in [Boy's] wheel – it was amazing.
"I left a little gap between Boy and me to get the slipstream to launch my sprint, but Bennett is really explosive; he's just faster than me. Maybe one of the stages where it's a bit more selective, maybe there I can grab a victory. Today, he was just faster."
The six-day race will tackle harder ascents in stage three tomorrow, where the climbers will have their first real test of legs. Trek-Segafredo has their hopes pinned on Pantano for the overall, but after his long season it is unknown how he will perform, said Theuns.
"We don't know, he's had a really long season," Theuns answered when asked about Pantano's chances. "He started in Australia in January, he's [been] on the Tour, on the Vuelta, so for sure he's really tired, but we hope he can reload one more time. I think the hardest part is the mental part for him to still be racing now after such a long season. Let's hope he can do it… I really appreciate his help because normally he should save his legs, but he's there in the last two kilometers. I am happy that he came and put us in a really good position; his work there was really good."