SAM’S YELLOW FEVER!

Carrick-on-Suir’s Bennett takes prestigious stage win

Dermot Keyes reports

“Gabh mo leithscéal @cyclesportmag ach is Eireannach mise. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir don tachaíocht agus do fhocail cineálta.”
SP1S1PicSam Bennett’s light-hearted Tweet, in response to a British-based cycling magazine’s earlier post which appeared to claim him as one of their own, lit up the social media following his opening stage victory at the Critérium International in Corsica.
The Carrick-on-Suir rider, in the Bora-Argon 18 colours, emulated fellow local Sean Kelly in winning a stage of the three-day event, with the ‘King of the Classics’ having taken a win on the French island back in 1987.
His win rounded off a tremendous week for Irish cyclists, coming just three days after Dan Martin won stage three of the Volta Catalunya, an event he eventually finished third in, with Colombia’s Nairo Quintana claiming victory on Sunday.
Sam, who sported a Tour de France-like Maillot Jaune on the podium at Porto Vecchio (given that the race is organised by VSO, who also run Le Tour), was thrilled to pick up his first win of 2016.
“We had a really good meeting yesterday and everybody knew exactly what to do,” Bennett told cycling website ‘Sticky Bottle’ in the wake of his success. “The guys were committed 100 per cent and everyone did a tremendous job.”

Sam Bennett left the cycling world in no doubt of his nationality following his opening stage win at Corsica’s Critérium International on Saturday last. Inset: Sam in action during Sunday’s time trial. 					| Photos: Sam Bennett/Facebook

Sam Bennett left the cycling world in no doubt of his nationality following his opening stage win at Corsica’s Critérium International on Saturday last. Inset: Sam in action during Sunday’s time trial. | Photos: Sam Bennett/Facebook

Sam added: “There was a crash with 15 kilometres to go and I was at the back of the peleton afterwards, but the team stayed together and brought me back up without panic. In the last descent, we made our move and hit the front (and) after the last corner, I still had three guys to lead out.”
Having pulled back a breakaway group that initially made a move some 15k into the 90k stage, Bennett’s team mates took control of the race pace and positioned their lead sprinter for victory. The group were eventually pegged back with just 500 metres to go: then up stepped the Carrick speedster to do the rest.
He added: “I launched my sprint pretty early with 250 metres to go, slightly uphill, but I felt I had to make my move because the whole team prepared everything so well. I felt that I opened a little gap and I could hold it to the line. It is brilliant to now have the first win (of the year) under the belt – this is a reward for everyone in the team.”
Bennett rolled off the time trial ramped on Sunday morning for the second stage – a seven kilometre time trial – and while he produced a strong ride to place 15th, he relinquished the yellow jersey to France’s Thibaut Pinot.
At the time of writing, Bennett was in ninth place going into yesterday’s (Monday) final stage, just 22 seconds in arrears, wearing the green jersey as he sought to maintain his excellent weekend form over the 171-kilometre run.
* Follow Sam Bennett on Twitter at ‎@Sammmy_Be

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