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Carrick-On-Suir rider Sam Bennett finished fourth on stage 1 of the 2020 Tour de France in Nice this afternoon as Norwegian Alexander Kristoff took the stage win along with the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Sam Bennett, who crashed earlier in the day and also suffered a puncture in an eventful 156 kilometre opening stage, found himself boxed in at a crucial time in the final sprint as Kristoff powered past the field to seal a surprise win for UAE Team Emirates.
Speaking at the finish line, Bennett gave his assessment of the day’s final sprint:
“At the end of the stage with the roads being so slippy, I tried to do my best, I tried to stay safe. I made a wrong decision in the final but when (Michael) Morkov [Bennett’s teammate] went, I saw (Jasper) Stuyven and I thought ‘ok, I’ll let him in and hopefully he’ll go early’ but he waited too long for me to get a run at Michael (Morkov) and I should have really fought for my teammate’s wheel and gone from there. I dropped the speed too much and I had to try and accelerate it again but it was just too late.”
World Champion Mads Pederson of Trek Segafredo took second in today’s stage with Nicolas Roche’s teammate Cees Bol third, just ahead of Bennett.
4th place wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for. A little bit of misjudgement on my part in the final. I was feeling good so I can take a lot of confidence from this. Big thanks to the @deceuninck_qst boys for the great work today. Looking forward to stage 3.
— Sam Bennett (@Sammmy_Be) August 29, 2020
Today’s Grand Départ which consisted of three loops around Nice, with two third category climbs and a flat finale was made for the sprinters.
As the nerves in the peloton came to the fore in dangerous cycling conditions, a mix of single riders losing traction on corners to large falls that brought down entire sections of the peloton marred Saturday’s action.
Sam Bennett, who was one of those to go down early in the day, also required a wheel change which forced him to chase back into the main peloton. Contenders for the General Classification Colombian Nairo Quintana and Julian Alaphilippe also fell, as did Australian Caleb Ewan, who was seen as a pre-stage favourite for victory today.
Alexander Kristoff’s 4th career stage victory at the Tour de France gives UAE Team Emirates their first ever yellow jersey and it is the first time for the Norwegian in yellow.
Reacting to his victory, the 33-year-old former Norwegian National Road Race Champion admitted:
“It’s a dream to wear the yellow jersey, I don’t think you can ask for anything better. The team came here to aim for the General Classification and some sprint stages. I was hoping, but I didn’t think I would win so early. Today I was riding well and I was able to give my best on the final straight.”
The other Irish riders in this year’s Tour, Dan Martin (Israel Start Up Nation) and Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) were both caught up by late crashes but appeared uninjured as they crossed the finishing line on Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
Tomorrow’s second stage of 186 kilometres will start and finish in Nice. The hilly route features the Col de la Colomiane, Col de Turini, Col d’Eze and Col des Quatres Chemins.
Stage 1 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirate) 3h46’23 “
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) s.t.
3. Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) s.t.
4. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick Step) s.t.
102. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) s.t.
118. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) s.t.
General Classification after Stage 1:
1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirate) 3h46’13”
2. Mads Pedersen (Trek – Segafredo) + 4 seconds.
3. Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) + 6 seconds
4. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick Step) + 10 seconds
102. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) + 10 seconds.
118. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) + 10 seconds.
The full stage result and overall classification can be viewed here.