Carrick-On-Suir’s Sam Bennett stretched his green jersey lead to 12 points over Peter Sagan in Thursday’s 191km sixth stage from Le Teil, as Alexey Lutsenko took his first career stage win on the mountainous trip to Mont Aigoual.
Bennett, who became the first Irish cyclist to wear the green jersey since Seán Kelly, gained six points on the day’s intermediate sprint to increase his lead over his current main rival for the jersey, Sagan. With Bennett set to spend a second day in green on Friday, he will match the feat of his fellow Irishman, Stephen Roche, in 1987.
“Wearing this jersey today was amazing, a lovely experience”, Bennett proudly admitted. “People applauded me, I heard my name as the stage progressed, and to see the support I got was just beautiful. Coming into the Tour it wasn’t a goal, but it would be a huge honour to win it. I know it’s still a long way to Paris and a lot of work has to be put in to conquer this jersey, but I will take it day by day and see what happens”, the Waterford rider said of his first day’s experience of wearing the green jersey.
The day’s eight-man breakaway included Team Sunweb’s Nicolas Roche, who won two King of the Mountain points before a difficult finish, which saw the group splinter on the day’s principal climb, the Col de la Lusette, late in the 191km stage from Le Teil.
Roche, who won the stage’s combativity award as the day’s most aggressive rider, is now third overall in the polka-dot rankings, on 11 points, behind leader Benoit Cosnefroy on 23 points and Michael Gogl on 12.
Adam Yates, who yesterday became the ninth Briton to wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, retained the race leadership following today’s stage.
Nicolas Roche finished 56th in the stage, seven minutes and seven seconds down on the stage victor Lutsenko and now finds himself in 44th place overall, 11 minutes and 59 seconds behind Yates.
Israel Start-Up Nation’s Dan Martin was 71st today and now finds himself in 76th position in the general classification, almost 40 minutes behind the race leader.