Sean Kelly sums up emotion of a nation as Sam Bennett all but sews up the green jersey
There were so many reasons for Sam Bennett to fold.
Mountains, cruel mountains that you'd struggle to drive a car up. Peter Sagan, a three time World champion, a man who has won the green jersey in each of the last seven tours but above all, a ferocious competitor.
But no matter what was thrown at him, Sam Bennett never lost his focus, the Carrick-on-Suir man there for every intermediate sprint, marking every move his rivals made.
By stage 19, his persistence has almost broken them. With the stage representing a final throw of the dice for his Slovakian rival, Bennett was at his watchful best as he tracked every move before finishing in 8th place, just ahead of Sagan and Trentin on the stage.
With only two stages left (one of them a time-trial), the Tipperary man now looks almost certain to take the individual points classification home after a tremendous three weeks in France.
Having had his fair share of disappointments in tours gone by, the 2020 edition has been a seminal breakthrough for a rider who has shown extraordinary potential for years.
Speaking during Eurosports coverage of the stage, Bennett's fellow Carrick-on-Suir man and fellow green jersey hero Sean Kelly summed up what this jersey will mean to Sam and what it will mean to Irish cycling.
Sam Bennett defeats rivals Sagan and Trentin to take another huge step to green 🟢
"After all the difficult tours he's had, to come on to the Champs Elysees with a jersey, it's going to be emotional.
"It's a great moment for Irish cycling, a dream for Sam Bennett" - Sean Kelly. pic.twitter.com/cd0FJbngMw
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) September 18, 2020