Sam Bennett ruled out of Tour de France through injury

Irish rider hasn’t recovered from knee injury in time to line up in Brittany on Saturday

Sam Bennett celebrates winning stage 21 of last year’s Tour de France. Photo: Stephan Mantey - Pool/Getty Images

Sam Bennett celebrates winning stage 21 of last year’s Tour de France. Photo: Stephan Mantey - Pool/Getty Images

 

Sam Bennett has been left devastated by the realisation that he will miss this year’s Tour de France due to injury. The Carrick-on-Suir rider made a career breakthrough last year when he won two stages and dominated the green jersey competition in the event, and then continued as the sport’s strongest sprinter this season.

However a knee injury caused Bennett to miss this month’s Baloise Belgium Tour and while his Deceuninck-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere recently indicated he should be fit for the Tour, this has unfortunately not panned out. He will consequently be absent from the Tour start in Brittany on Saturday.

“Needless to say, I’m very disappointed to not be able to defend my green jersey at this year’s Tour de France,” said Bennett in a team statement on Monday afternoon. “I had a very minor incident during training a couple of weeks ago, which affected my knee. While the injury I sustained is very short-term, it impacted my training for the biggest bike race in the world all too much and left me without enough time to be race fit.

“Le Tour deserves me at my best and it would do my team, and myself, an injustice to race in my current condition. I wish the whole Wolfpack a successful three weeks on the road of France.”

Bennett’s place as the team’s sprint leader will be taken up by Mark Cavendish. The Manxman has clocked up 30 stage wins in all in the race, and is arguably the best sprinter of all time. However he has been below par in recent seasons and while he has had a resurgence of sorts since moving to the team on a minimum wage, last-gasp contract last winter, Bennett would still normally be the first choice.

“I am delighted to be going back to the Tour de France with Deceuninck - Quick-Step,” said Cavendish. “Obviously, the circumstances with Sam could be better - he had a special Tour last year and I am sad for him not being able to defend his green jersey. But at the same time, I am excited to be going back to a race that I have such an affinity with and where I have so much history. It is the biggest bike race in the world, and I am going to do all I can to grab this opportunity with both hands.”

It is not yet clear how long Bennett will be out of competition. He could potentially ride the Vuelta a España, which begins on Saturday August 14th. He won stage four last year.

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