Sam Bennett took victory on the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana in a massive sprint finish in Utrecht ahead of Mads Pedersen and Tim Merlier.

Bennett had said he wanted to "find myself and get those wins" ahead of his first Grand Tour in two years and he delivered on that promise in thrilling fashion, coming out best in frantic bunch sprint after a 175.1km run between the Dutch towns of 's-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht.

Having overcome a number of setbacks since claiming the green jersey at the Tour de France in 2020 and struggling for form since his move to Bora-Hansgrohe, the Carrick-on-Suir man served notice of his sprinting prowess to add to his Vuelta stage victories in 2019 and 2020.

Bennett leads the points classification on 67 points, and afterwards paid tribute to his team-mates, including compatriot Ryan Mullen, who finished in 26th.

"Ryan Mullen did a great job for me and then Dany van Poppel - well he didn't just deliver me to the sprint, he launched me," Bennet said of the well timed lead-out.

"He brought me up with speed, then he was kind of ready for me to jump, but I waited a second and I didn't know if I'd let my speed drop too much, and I was nervous I wouldn't get on top of the speed again.

"It's nice. I knew I'd do it (win another Grand Tour stage) again, it was just a matter of getting the right legs. What I'm really happy about is continuing my pattern of winning at least one stage in every Grand Tour I've done since 2018."

The result means Bennett has won a stage in the last five Grand Tours he has contested.

Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) finished fourth and took La Roja, the leader's red jersey, from his team-mate and Dutch compatriot Robert Gesink.

Sunday's stage three is also flat for a 193.5km run from Breda and back, before the peloton transfers to the Basque Country on Monday.