The Irishman finished runner-up in Poitiers, after a hectic sprint.
A strategic location between Paris and Bordeaux, capital of the historical Poitou region and the Vienne department, and the place where Charles Martel’s army defeated that of the Ummayad Caliphate in 732, Poitiers hosted a Tour de France finish for just the fourth time in history Wednesday afternoon.
Completely flat, the 167.5km stage 11 came to life inside seven kilometers to go, when one rider launched a move to foil the sprinters’ plans, only to be countered by Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen and Bob Jungels. Once they bridged across, the duo continued at the front, applying pressure on the other teams, who ignited a mad chase in order to bring them back with only two kilometers to go.
A 1.6km final straight preceded by a tricky lump was what awaited the riders in the final of this otherwise quiet day, which culminated in a bunch sprint that had Sam Bennet again amog the protagonists. The Irishman took the line down the center, his whirring legs generating again a huge sprint that netted him third behind Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), only 15 centimeters separating him from what would have been his second victory in as many days.
Minutes after the finish, Sam was elevated to second, after the Slovak was relegated by the race commissaires for irregular sprinting, the points he picked up in Poitiers and at the intermediate sprint in Les Grands Ajoncs, where he relied again on an excellent Michael Mørkøv, giving him a buffer of 68 points in the green jersey classification.
“The guys did a fantastic job looking after me and I got to enjoy another beautiful day in this nice jersey and get a lot of support and applause from the roadside fans. The sprint was really nervous and I found myself in the front too early, so I drifted back a bit, but it was too late. Despite that, I tried to limit my losses and get the most out of it, get the best result I Could. Would have been nice to add another win, but second is still a strong result in these conditions, especially as it helps me increase my lead in the points standings”, explained Bennett after the first Tour de France stage finish in Poitiers since 1978.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images