Sunday was meant to be a run-of-the mill recon ride for George Bennett as he rode the route of stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia, the 34.5km time trial from Trento to Rovereto.
Unfortunately things did not go to plan Bennett found himself lying on the tarmac after a driver turned in front of him, a collision which took place at such speed that the New Zealander said he took the car’s bike rack clean off with his knees.
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Miraculously Bennett managed to escape without any serious injuries, lining up for the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps the following day and taking second place behind Luis Leon Sanchez on Thursday’s stage to Lienz.
Like so many other riders at the Tour of the Alps, Bennett is using the race as final preparation for the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Jerusalem on May 4, but admits that the crash has affected him both physically and psychologically.
“I was feeling confident and really good ahead of the Giro, but since the crash I’ve had some really strange feelings,” Bennett said as he completed his warm down after the stage.
“It’s a bit in my head. I’m not that keen to rail the descents too fast, even if I can still get down them without trouble.
“Physically, the day after the crash I was still good, but two days after all the swelling came out and I just felt like an absolute wreck. Today was a bit better so I’m hoping that I’m past the worst of it.
“I know I’m going pretty good from before I crashed. That can’t have been lost completely, but I’ll have to take a bit of time after this race and let it get back to normal. It’s a pretty big trauma for your body to go through so I’ve just got to take things slowly.”
As is the case with all second places, the LottoNL-Jumbo rider’s runner-up position provoked bittersweet emotions, but his performance was certainly an impressive one given both his recent crash and the fact that he had already put in a big effort in an unsuccessful attack earlier in the stage.
“I went way too early [by attacking with 30km to go . I thought it was a good move because Bahrain-Merida, Sky, and Astana all had guys up the road. and I thought ‘if I can get there then who is going to chase?’
“But then UAE were still there to chase. I went across full gas, as hard as I could go and got across really quickly, but then I was cooked. I was pretty smashed.
“After that I was a little bit worried with what the last climb was going to hold, but in the end I managed to attack again and I didn’t even look behind.
“I think we had the fastest guy in the group. I went after Sanchez to try and close him down so Koen [Bouwman] could try and win the sprint, but I couldn’t catch him. He was too strong.”