Sam Bennett has pulled out of Paris-Nice, after suffering a nasty crash in the sprint finish of stage three.
The Irish star needed four stitches in his hand after he was brought down a few hundred metres from the line, hitting the barrier at high speed.
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Initially Bennett said he intended to race on, after finishing the stage two minutes down on the winner with blood pouring from his hand, but the Deceuninck – Quick-Step sprinter didn’t start the stage four time trial.
Ahead of the time trial in Saint-Amand-Montrond, Deceuninck – Quick-Step said: “Following his crash yesterday, Sam Bennett has again been assessed by our medical team and it has been decided that he will not take to the start of Paris-Nice stage four today and he is instead travelling home.
“We wish Sam a speedy recovery.”
It was an all-round bad day for Bennett on stage three, the first real sprint opportunity of the race.
The 29-year-old crashed in the final after Israel Start-Up Nation rider Hugo Hofstetter was forced to jump off his bike at high speed, falling into Bennett who was shoved into the barriers and crashed hard.
Bennett was able to finish the stage, but looked to be in a lot of pain.
After the stage, Bennett was check over by medics and had four stitches in a gash in the fingers of his right hand.
Then after the stage, race commissaires announced that Bennett would be penalised after he was seen barging Arkéa-Samsic climber Nairo Quintana while fighting for position.
Irish national champion Bennett was fined 800 Swiss francs and had 40 UCI classification points deducted because of the incident.
Bennett leaves Paris-Nice without a stage victory, having missed out in the crosswinds during the chaotic opening two stages.
But he has already tasted glory this season, winning the opening stage of the Tour Down Under and following up with victory in Race Torquay.
Bennett was also closing in on victory at the UAE Tour, finishing second on the Hatta Dam stage, before the final two sprint opportunities were abandoned because of a coronavirus outbreak.