Despite stage one crash, Irishman reaches Paris as Lanterne Rouge and finishes 9th on the Champs-Élysées
BORA – Argon 18 rider Sam Bennett has put in a tremendous fight since the opening stage of the 2016 Tour de France to make it to Paris. The mere fact that he didn’t pull out is a testament to his courage and determination.
A Quest for Survival
A faller during the bunch sprint on the opening stage at Utah Beach, Bennett has raced for three weeks with stitches in his right hand and a clamp on his little finger, hurdles that have prevented him from taking part in any sprints and saw his Tour become to a struggle simply to remain in the race.
However, he persevered despite the injuries and even managed to finish in 9th on Stage 21 in the mix on the Champs-Élysées on Sunday evening. Bennett finished the Tour de France in the Lanterne Rouge position, which denotes the last-placed finisher.
A Battle Won
Cruelly, this Tour de France was concluded with its toughest stages in the final days. For four days, the fast men like Bennett must have felt cloistered by Alps, and heavy rain soaked the peloton for much of Saturday afternoon. At the end of the day, the gruppetto – with Bennett safely aboard – arrived in Morzine more than 34 minutes after Ion Izagirre (Movistar) had claimed the stage’s honours.
“I didn't think I was going to make it today,” said Bennett. “So I'm happy to finish. Schillinger did a great job of helping me and pacing me. It was just a hard day from the beginning.”
Sprinting in Paris
Bennett rode into Paris on Sunday last on the general classification, more than five hours behind Froome, but that misses the entire point of his effort these past three weeks. The Tour de France is not so much a single bike race as a series of overlapping personal battles, and the Irishman has won his.
“It’s a dream to sprint in Paris and I didn’t want to let that opportunity pass,” says Bennett, who managed to cross the finish line in 9th place on this ultimate stage. “I feel a bit of relief. I didn't want the Tour to win two years in a row.”