Sam Bennett’s Tour de France preparation disrupted by injury
Deceuninck-QuickStep rider drops out of Belgium Tour and will rest instead
Sam Bennett, pictured here winning the Brugge-De Panne classic in March, has suffered a setback in his preparations for the Tour de France after injuring his right knee. Photograph: Dirk Waem/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images
Sam Bennett’s preparation for the Tour de France has received a considerable setback with his scheduled start in the Baloise Belgium Tour on Wednesday now not set to go ahead. The Carrick-on-Suir rider, who won two stages plus the green jersey in last year’s Tour, will miss the warm-up event due to injury.
Bennett’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team announced the news on Tuesday afternoon. “Following a small incident in training last weekend, Sam Bennett has incurred a problem with his right knee,” it said in a statement. “After consultation with our medical team, it has been decided that he will not start this week’s Belgium Tour and will instead take some rest ahead of the Tour de France.”
It added that he will be replaced on the team’s roster by the British sprinter Mark Cavendish.
Although the Baloise Belgium Tour is just five days in length, it was set to play an important role in Bennett’s build-up for the Tour de France. He last competed back on May 9th on the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, and has been training for the Tour since then.
The Belgian event would have been his first race in a month.
Bennett’s Tour success last year was followed by a stage win in the Vuelta a España, and confirmed his position as the best sprinter in pro cycling. He has continued in the same manner this season, winning seven races thus far.
These included two stages in the aforementioned Volta ao Algarve. He is set to leave the Deceuninck-QuickStep team at the end of the season, but the squad recently confirmed he would be its designated sprint leader for the Tour de France.
A team spokesperson confirmed to the Irish Times on Tuesday that medical staff believe the injury will not derail his participation in the Tour.
However, the lack of other events between now and the Tour means he looks likely to line out at the race start on June 26th with a 48-day gap in competition. Given that his main sprint rivals will likely all have competed beforehand, this could disadvantage Bennett early on in the race.
Meanwhile, Eddie Dunbar once again rode aggressively at the Tour de Suisse, showing his improving form on stage three of the race on Tuesday.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider made it into a select group of riders which pushed ahead on the day’s final categorised climb, and then placed second in an intermediate sprint 13 kilometres from the finish. The Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) clocked up the stage win for the second day in a row, with Dunbar finished in the same time in 19th place.
Van der Poel takes over as race leader, while Dunbar moves up four places to 15th overall. He is 56 seconds back heading into tougher terrain on Wednesday.
In Italy, Ben Healy (Trinity Racing) finished 11th on stage six of the Giro Ciclistico d’Italia. Aloïs Charrin (Swiss Racing Academy) was first to the line, with the next riders including Healy finishing one second behind. The Irish road-race champion drops one place to eighth overall.
Tour de Suisse (WorldTour)
Stage 3, Lachen to Pfaffnau: 1 Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 182.1 kilometres in 4 hours 24 mins 26 secs, 2 C Laporte (Cofidis), 3 J Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 4 M Matthews (Team BikeExchange), 5 M Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), 6 A Kamp (Trek-Segafredo) all same time
Irish: 19 E Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) same time
General classification after stage 3: 1 Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) at 8 hours 49 mins 14 secs, 2 J Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 1, 3 S Küng (Groupama-FDJ) at 4, 4 M Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 6, 5 M Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at 13, 6 I Garcia Cortina (Movistar Team) at 16
Irish: 15 E Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) at 56
Young riders classification: 1 Neilson Powless (EF Education-Nippo) 8 hours 49 mins 43 secs, 2 A Kron (Lotto Soudal) at 8, 3 M Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) at 23
Irish: 4 E Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) at 27
Teams classification: 1, Deceuninck-QuickStep, 13 hours 50 mins 11 secs, 2, Ineos Grenadiers, at 45, 3, Astana-Premier Tech, at 56
Giro Ciclistico d’Italia, Italy
Stage 6, Bonferraro Di Sorgà to San Pellegrino Terme: 1 Aloïs Charrin (Swiss Racing Academy) 176 kilometres in 3 hours 49 mins 50, 2 Tobias Hallard Johannessen (Uno-X Dare DT) at 1, 3 Filippo Baroncini (Team Colpack Ballan), 4 Henri Vandenabeele (Development Tam DSM), 5 Nicolo Buratti (Cycling Team Friuli ASD) all same time
Irish: 11 Ben Healy (Trinity Racing) same time
General classification after stage 6: 1 Juan Ayuso (Team Colpack Ballan), 2 T Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Dare Development Team) at 1 min 27 , 3 H Vandenabeele (Development Team DSM) at 2 mins 20 secs, 4 T Gloag (Trinity Racing) at 2 mins 23 secs, 5 Alessandro Verre (Team Colpack Ballan) at 2 mins 31 secs
Irish: 8 B Healy (Trinity Racing) at 2 mins 44 secs