Bennett takes second stage and seals green jersey
Sam Bennett romped to an emphatic victory on the Champs-Elysees last night as he became the first Irishman since Sean Kelly in 1989 to win the Tour de France’s green jersey.
The final stage of what has been an extraordinary race began with a demonstration against racism organised by the riders.
Questions had been asked of ASO, the Tour promoters, and the UCI, cycling’s governing body, since the start in Nice three weeks ago as to why the sport’s biggest race had failed to do anything to recognise the global anti-racism movement.
Those questions intensified after Kevin Reza (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) gave a number of interviews last week expressing doubts that cycling could change and admitting he did not see a lot of solidarity from the peloton as a whole. Reza, who is from nearby Versailles, started yesterday’s final stage from Mantes-laJolie to Paris at the front of the race as a number of riders wore masks displaying anti-racism messages.
Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who had already wrapped up the victory in what is effectively the Olympic 100metres final for road sprinters.
The 29-year-old from Carrick-onSuir – the same small Tipperary town as “King” Kelly, who is now a Eurosport pundit and who has been sending him daily messages – celebrated by lifting his bike above his head and roaring.
World champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) was second, with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who has won a record seven green jerseys and who made life difficult for Bennett in the mountains, third.
Showing good sportsmanship, Sagan went over to congratulate Bennett after the finish.
“I suffered a lot,” admitted Bennett, for whom this was a second stage win of the race. “It was just so incredibly tough. This makes it all worthwhile.”