Sam Bennett will continue building form this week after a solid recent showing in the UAE Tour, with the Paris-Nice event representing his second race of the season.
The lumpy profile of Sunday's opening stage to Mantes la Ville didn't play to the strengths of Bennett and Bora-hansgrohe team-mate Ryan Mullen, with Jumbo-Visma trio Christophe Laporte, Primoz Roglic and Wout Van Aert breaking clear on a climb close to the end and finishing in that order. The Irish duo were in a group just over two minutes back.
However, Monday’s stage two to Orléans is much more likely to end in a bunch sprint and Mullen will do what he can to help Bennett contest the top placings.
“That was a classic Paris-Nice stage today, very hard and very stressful,” Bennett said. “I’m super happy with how we worked as a team during the stage. We were very well positioned at the crucial points and the guys did a great job to support me.
“In the end I just didn’t have the legs on the final climb before the finish and couldn’t follow. I’m definitely not at 100 per cent yet but I feel an improvement and that’s what I’m happy about today. Let’s see what the next days have to offer.”
Bennett has clocked up a total of five stage wins in previous editions of the French event. He is still rebuilding race fitness after missing much of last season due to injury, and said recently it will take a couple of months before he is back to full speed. However, he will be encouraged by his second and third places on stages of the recent UAE Tour, and will be keen to gauge his form.
However the sprinters will likely have just one opportunity in the WorldTour event, as the stages after Monday are hillier.
In Croatia, young Irish riders Archie Ryan (Jumbo-Visma Academy) and Darren Rafferty (Hagens Berman Axeon) rode solidly in the Porec Trophy on Sunday. The event is their second race of the year and they finished 40th and 41st respectively, 17 seconds behind the winner Dusan Rajovic (Team Corratec).
At home, Liam Curley (Technological University Dublin) won the Séamus Kennedy Memorial in Co Meath on Sunday. He triumphed over Dean Harvey (Spellman Dublin Port), who had a very successful step up from the junior ranks on Saturday, winning the Annaclone GP in Co Down.
Harvey's winning move began with a surge on a climb with approximately six kilometres remaining and saw the 18-year-old solo in to the finish well clear of a chasing Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles).
In Kerry, Danny MacDonald (Burren Cycling Club) was best in a select group sprint to win the Lacey Cup in Tralee ahead of Mark Shannon (Burren Cycling Club). In Co Meath on Saturday, Jason Kenny finished ahead of his UCD Cycling Club team-mate Conor Murnane in the Mick Lally Memorial at Summerhill.
Stage 1, Mantes-La-Ville: 1 Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) 159.8 kilomtetres in 3:48.38, 2 P Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), 3 W Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) both same time, 4 P Latour (TotalEnergies) at 19 secs, 5 M Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) at 22 secs.
Irish: 84 R Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 2.04, 85 S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time.
General classification after stage 1: 1 Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) 3:48.28, 2 P Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) at 4 secs, 3 W Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at 6 secs, 4 P Latour (TotalEnergies) at 29 secs , 5 M Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 32 secs.
Irish: 85 R Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) 2.14, 86 S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time.
Porec Trophy, Croatia (1.2): 1 Dusan Rajovic (Team Corratec) 155.5 kilometres in 3:28.15, 2 M Govekar (Tirol KTM Cycling Team), 3 V Potocki (Ljubljana Gusto Santic), 4 T Finkst (Adria Mobil), 5 S Flynn (Swiss Racing Academy) all same time.
Irish: 40 A Ryan (Jumbo-Visma Academy) at 17 secs, 41 D Rafferty (Hagens Berman Axeon) same time.
Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré, Belgium (1.1): 1 Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal) 203.2 kilometres in 4:45.03, 2 D De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), 3 H Hofstetter (Arkea-Samsic), 4 G Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), 5 E Vernon (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) all same time.
Irish: 49 R Townsend (Wiv Sungod) 2.01, 77 M Teggart (Wiv Sungod) 4.06, 102 C Mc Dunphy (Evopro Racing) 7.40. DNF: D Feeley (Evopro Racing).
Séamus Kennedy Memorial, Meath: 1 Liam Curley (Technological University Dublin), 2 D Harvey (Spellman Dublin Port), 3 G O'Neill (Caldwell Cycles), 4 C McCann (Inspired Cycles), 5 T O'Regan (All Human Velo Revolution).
Unplaced A2s: 1 Ronan Grimes (Orwell Wheelers), 2 C Ibbotson (McNally Swords CC), 3 S Murnane (Orwell Wheelers), 4 R Geraghty (Spin11 Chainreaction), 5 F Keogh (Moynalty CC).
Women's race: 1 Caoimhe O'Brien (Weston Homes Torelli Assure), 2 E McCrystal (Bellurgan Wheelers), 3 A O'Brien (Weston Homes Torelli Assure), 4 E Smith (Navan Road Club), 5 C Gallagher (UCD Cycling).
Unplaced Juniors: 1 Ellen Murray (TC Racing), 2 K Reilly (Orwell Wheelers).
A3 Race: 1 Patrick O'Loughlin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers), 2 O Doogan (Caldwell Cycles), 3 A Gilsenan (CCC Centurino).
Unplaced Juniors: 1 Adam Rafferty (US Colombiers), 2 T Killeen (Orwell Wheelers).
A4 race: 1 Cormac Meegan (Drogheda Wheelers), 2 R Neary (Cuchulainn CC), 3 G Connolly (Bray Wheelers).
Unplaced A4: 1 Oisín Mulryne (Ardee CC).
Dublin Wheelers Open Races, Summerhill, Co Meath: – A1-A2 Mick Lally Memorial: 1 Jason Kenny (UCD Cycling Club), 2 C Murnane (UCD Cycling Club), 3 T Regan (Seven Springs CC), 4 L Curley (Spellman Dublin Port), 5 T O'Regan (All human-VeloRevolution).
A3-Junior Liam Gallahar Memorial: 1 Adam Gilsenan (CC Canturino Team), 2 Q Donnelly (Usher Irish Road Club), 3 P O'Loughlin (Panduit Carrick Wheelers), 4 D O'Brien (Waterford Racing Team), 5 J Sheridan (St Tiernan's CC).
A4 Willie Marks Memorial: 1 Brian McGrath (McNally Swords CC), 2 D McNab (Unattached), 3 C Considine (Bray Wheelers), 4 M Jones (Dublin Wheelers CC), 5 Z Power (Panduit Carrick Wheelers).
Annaclone GP, Co. Down – A1-A2-A3 race: 1 Dean Harvey (Spellman - Dublin Port), 2 D Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles), 3 O Doogan (Team Caldwell Cycles), 4 L Smith (Moynalty CC), 5 G O'Neill (Team Caldwell Cycles).
Leading A2: Dean Harvey (Spellman - Dublin Port).
Leading A3: Odhrán Doogan (Team Caldwell Cycles).
A4/women's race: 1 Mark Hunter (Errigal Cycling Club), 2 N Doyle (TVR), 3 M Currie (Harps CC).
Leading woman: Erin Grace Creighton (McConvey Cycles).
Lacey Cup, Tralee, Co Kerry – A1-A2-A3-Junior event: 1 Danny MacDonald (Burren Cycling Club), 2 M Shannon (Burren Cycling Club), 3 T Regan (Seven Springs CC Loughrea), 4 T Moriarty (Tralee Manor West Bicycle Club), 5 S Gillman (Team Dan Morrissey Pactimo).
Leading woman: Carthach McCarthy (Blarney Cycling Club).
Gleann na nGealt prime: Sam Bolger (Killarney Cycling Club).
Sliabh Mish Prime (Teddy Griffin Cup): Conor Hennebry (Team Dan Morrissey Pactimo).
A4 race: 1 Mark McGlynn (Killarney Cycling Club), 2 Mario Gordillo Cortines (O'Leary Stone Kanturk), 3 Hugh McSweeney (Blarney Cycling Club).
Gleann na nGealt prime: Mario Gordillo Cortines (O'Leary Stone Kanturk).