Ben­nett takes sec­ond stage and seals green jersey

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cycling - By Tom Cary

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.”

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