Sam Bennett notched up his third top ten placing in this year's Critérium du Dauphiné on Thursday, netting ninth in the uphill sprint into Belley.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) was first to the line, holding off Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx - QuickStep), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) and the rest of the main bunch.
Bennett had been strongly positioned heading towards the sprint, but a rush of riders up the outside caused him to suddenly end up too far back to challenge for the win.
“It was really, really dangerous with small, twisting roads,” he said afterwards. “The guys did a fantastic job and came together at the right time. But to stay together was nearly impossible. We did really, really well to achieve what we did achieve.
“I went into the last corner in in a really good place but then in the last 300 metres, guys came from the back and I lost position. I think it would be easy for anybody watching it to say I should have just pushed out, but that wasn’t the case. It was just really difficult when you are that on the limit.
“I just tried to pull out any result I could then. It was tough.”
Already third on stage one and sixth on Wednesday’s stage three, Bennett could have been excused for feeling frustrated at how things had ended up.
However he took consolation from his strong form heading towards the Tour de France, and said that with better fortune he could have been right up there.
“I think if I was lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time, it was a stage I could have won,” the Bora-Argon 18 rider stated. “But it wasn’t to be today.”
Compatriot Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) also finished in the main bunch, placing 20th. However with teammate Alaphilippe picking up a time bonus for second, the latter moves above Martin into fourth overall.
Martin is now fifth, but moves from 21 seconds to just twelve seconds behind ongoing race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) due to a split in the bunch. The race continues Friday with the first of three tough mountain stages.
In other news the national road race championships appear to have finally found a venue after a very complicated few weeks. Originally scheduled for the Phoenix Park, organisers Orwell Wheelers had to abandon those plans when the Gardai said that Joe Biden’s visit made the venue impossible.
The club then shifted to Blessington, but clashes with a local charity event led to that plan being scrapped.
The championships will now be run off in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, from June 23rd to 26th.