Sam Bennett admission shows how incredible his final stage win was
The Irish cyclist had seven-time Tour de France champion Peter Sagan breathing down his neck all tour.
Sam Bennett is the 2020 Tour de France green jersey winner after sealing his remarkable achievement in sprint finish style on the Champs-Élysées.
The Carrick-On-Suir native had already clinched the green jersey, earlier in Stage 21, but drove home his dominance by winning the stage with a superb sprint.
Following the race, Bennett spoke to Eurosport about what the victory meant but how he also feared he did not have it in his legs on the final day. He said:
"I can't tell you how excited I am. Green jersey, the Champs-Élysées, the world championships of sprinting, I never thought I'd ever be able to win this stage, and to do it in green is so special.
"To do with my dream team, Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step, and the way they were with me all day... they were fantastic. Oh, it's just so amazing, this feeling. I can't thank everyone enough.
"Oh man, all the suffering through the mountains... so worth it now. All the years coming up and trying to make it... it took me so long to get here. I'm sorry if I'm coming across as too arrogant or anything but I'm just going to enjoy every moment of it."
On the final sprint, when Bennett outgunned Mads Pedersen and Peter Sagan, Bennett commented:
"We were riding at the front, coming in, and I was feeling the legs a bit. I was like, 'Ohhh, I'm after messing this up a bit. I'm after using up too much of my legs'. Dries (Devenyns) came up and asked, 'Do you want to go back to Michael (Morkov)? It's a little bit easier in the bunch.'
"I was a little bit nervous because the last time I was coming up the Champs-Élysées, somebody came down the back straight and broke their collar-bone. So I was nervous about riding with the bunch. It doesn't seem fast when you see it on TV, but it's fast downhill.
"I was a bit nervous but I went back. Then, I thought we had one lap to go but I heard, on the radio, that it was two laps and I thought, 'Okay, I've time to recover'.
"And then the boys, we waited, waited, waited. The boys destroyed the race, we came in under the tunnel first. Then I was thinking we went too early... (but) we were holding, holding and then into the last corner, Morkov started to open up and we had each side covered... I let them go first and I waited, then I opened up when Stuyven (Pedersen's teammate) went off the front for Mads. So I ran on that and went on the other side where I thought it was smooth.
"I thought there was going to be someone coming past me but, oh, I can't believe I got it!"
It is incredible to think of all that was going through his head in those final moments when, on out TV screens, he looked so focused and primed to win. He reckoned his legs were gone, but he was selling himself short.
In the end, that stage win and a fifth place in the intermediate sprint saw Bennett win the green jersey by a whopping 96 points from Sagan, the living legend.
Asked if it would be 'madness back in Ireland', Bennett remarked, "Oh, I don't know!"
We'll answer that one for him... YES.
We could all do with a pick-me-up right now and Sam Bennett definitely delivered.