Irish Daily Mirror

PARIS-NICE WIN GIVES BENNETT YELLOW JERSEY

33 years in the making ...Bennett takes yellow in the Paris-nice

- BY GAVIN QUINN

A ‘DELIGHTED’ Sam Bennett has become the first Irishman to wear the Paris-nice yellow jersey in 33 years after winning yesterday’s opening stage.

The Irish sprinter blew away the top contenders in a slightly uphill finish to take the coveted leader’s jersey.

Bennett will become the first Irishman to wear the jersey (inset) since Sean Kelly in 1988, and was thrilled to follow in the footsteps of his fellow Carrick-on-suir native.

“I feel good now. I like to ride in France for sure. I suppose it’s where all the big races are. I’m delighted to be in yellow after Sean winning it so many times,” Bennett said.

“I’m not going to win the overall but to lead the GC for a day or two is pretty special. It would be nice to do it again tomorrow. I will try.”

The win is his third of the season after he took home two stage victories at the UAE Tour last month.

Bennett faced stiff competitio­n in the form of French national champion Arnaud Demare, who won multiple stages at last year’s Giro d’italia.

And Demare looked likely to win with just several hundred metres left to ride, but a late burst from Bennett was so strong that he had time to spare to celebrate on the line.

Former world champion Mads Pedersen rounded out the podium in third place.

Bennett continued: “The guys (Deceuninck Quickstep teammates) did a fantastic job again today. I was a little blocked in the last 15km and the nature of the sprint here made it a little chaotic.

“The narrowing in the last 500 metres made it even more tricky. But the guys delivered me on the wheel. “Michael (Mørkøv) was always calm and he always seems to get me there the whole time.

“The team were amazing. I was a bit worried coming here and I spent the whole day until the last ten or 15 kilometres wondering whether the legs would be there in the sprint.

“In the last two kilometres I could not get to the front and then eventually we got there.

“I was put in Pedersen’s wheel and I just waited to try to go and I was kind of blocked again at the 500 metres mark.

“It was nerve-racking. Then we cut the gap and I followed (Pascal) Ackermann when he tried to go and I gave it my all.”

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