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World of Sport

08th Sep 2020

Not a dry eye in Ireland as Sam Bennett breaks down after Tour de France triumph

Patrick McCarry

“I don’t mean to be a cry-baby… “

Cry your bloody eyes out for all we care, Sam Bennett. This is your moment and you can do whatever the hell you want with it.

We were all celebrating, last week, when the Carrick-raised cyclist became the first Irishman since Sean Kelly, back in 1989, to hold the green [sprint] jersey at the Tour de France.

Just a few days later and we are celebrating all over again. Not only has Bennett retained that overall sprint lead, he has done in in stage-winning style.

Bennett ensured the Irish tricolour will be raised during the post-race ceremony at Ile de Ré after holding off stiff competition from Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan to clinch Stage 10.

In his post-race interview, however, Bennett was still in shock. Thinking he had the sprint win secured, he did not fling his bike forward at the end and feared Ewan had pipped him to history.

The Australian had not – and Bennett became only the sixth ever Irish stage winner of ‘Le Tour’ – but his brain still had not processed how close a call that finish was during what turned out to be an emotional interview.

“I don’t think it’s hit me… I forgot to throw the bike at the line and I thought he got me. It hasn’t hit me. I thought I’d be in te floods of tears but I’m just in shock.”

When the interviewer confirmed to Bennett that he had, in fact, won the stage, the tears started to flow.

“I just want to thank everyone that has been involved, thank the whole team and Patrick [Lefevere, team boss] for giving me this opportunity and to everybody for all it took to get here. I want to thank my wife… everyone around me… sorry.”

“You dream of it and you never think it will happen,” he added, “but it did. I don’t know, it took a while for it to hit me and… oh man!!

“I was waiting to go [for the sprint finish] but I thought I was waiting too late… then I went and I thought I could be in too big a gear. I don’t know, I don’t know! Sorry… I don’t mean to be a cry-baby.”

After that race, that finish and that interview, there won’t be a dry eye in Ireland today.