Sam Bennett's green jersey masterclass got Lance Armstrong talking
The American cyclist has been keeping a close eye on Ireland's newest green jersey champion.
Lance Armstrong is now a card-carrying member of the Sam Bennett club.
All the way through the 107th edition of the Tour de France, Armstrong has been tracking the ups and downs on his podcast 'The Move'. He is usually joined by JB Hager and his old teammate George Hibcapie as they dissect the major events and talking points of each stage.
As a seven-time champion, Armstrong is well placed to speak on the tour... even if the UCI subsequently stripped him of all seven titles for anti-doping offences. The Texan is big into the podcasting world with his interview feature show 'Forward' and, whenever big cycling events come around, 'The Move'.
With the latest edition of the world's most famous road race being a true break-out for Bennett, it has been no surprise to hear Armstrong talk up the Carrick-On-Suir native on his show. For instance, after Bennett claimed his first stage win of the tour, at Ile de Ré, Armstrong was blown away by the Irishman's emotional post-race interview. He commented:
"We saw how emotional Sam Bennett was. He was apologetic. It finally set in, when he was doing the post-race interview, and then he just started crying.
"And he said, 'I'm sorry, I don’t want to be a cry baby'. Man, let me tell you something, you ain’t no cry baby, alright?! You just won a stage in the Tour de France, a nervous day, you’re in the green jersey, f***, I don’t care what you do!"
Stage 19, last Friday, all but sealed Bennett his first ever points classification green jersey and the weekend was all about keeping an eye on Peter Sagan, his nearest rival, staying out of trouble and, if possible, having a dart at another stage win.
Winning Stage 21 on the Champs Elyseés, which Bennett did in devastating style, was the cherry on top of a wonderful tour. He blew away worlds champion Mads Pedersen and Sagan, a seven-time green jersey winner, over the final 200 metres and was almost a full bike clear when crossing the finish line.
Reflecting on that sprinting tour-de-force, Armstrong and Hincapie were effusive in their praise:
ARMSTRONG: Sam Bennett proves that he deserves to win the green jersey. He made that look pretty easy.
HINCAPIE: He sure did. He had an awesome lead-out from (Michael) Morkov. Just a perfect position. We've all done that finish many times and I've been in that situation where I was leading out Mark Cavendish. It's stressful, it's fast and it's dangerous but these (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) guys held their composure... Quick-Step always seem to get these sprinters at their peak. They had Cavendish before, Bennett now and both Elia Viviiani and Marcel Kittel. They have a knack for picking the best sprinters at their peak.
Bennett is 29 now and will be hoping he gets another few chances to add to his green jersey success at future tours. He has certainly come to the boil in the past two years and is now right up there with the world's finest.
Armstrong and Hincapie also spoke about the "unbelievable" Stage 20 time trial that 22-year-old Tadej Pogacar pulled off to all but seal his first ever yellow jersey triumph. Both were in agreement that the Slovenian had all the tools to win another four of fives tours if he could build on this year's victory.