As a sprinter, all you want to do is win. But if you’re beaten by your best mate, I guess it’s not so bad.
Caleb Ewan and Sam Bennett shared the spoils of the post-rest day sprint stages between them, taking turns on the top and second steps of the podium.
For Bennett on stage 10, it was a career-defining moment, his first Tour de France stage victory after years of waiting in the wings. For Ewan, three years his junior, it was his fifth stage in two years. He has clearly become accustomed to the process, celebrating “just in case” he had crossed the line first without knowing the result.
Luckily, he had pulled it off, and for a second day in a row, he and Bennett fist-bumped to their sprinting dominance. So far, they have been able to share success and maintain a close friendship.
“We live in the same apartment block. We’re very good friends, he’s one of my best mates and we train a lot together. It’s always hard because we both have the same goals and we both have a lot of pressure on us to win here, it’s the biggest bike race in the world, and the sprints get very heated,” Ewan said after the stage, by which time Peter Sagan had been relegated after shoving Wout van Aert.
“But we’ve done well so far, I think, to separate work and our friendship. And when he won yesterday I couldn’t have been happier for him because everyone saw how much it meant and I’ve seen how hard he’s worked for it, so I’m super happy for him.”
However, that competitive nature still peeks through.
“On the other side, obviously I was disappointed for myself because I worked hard for it and I didn’t win. It’s always a hard one like that, but if someone’s going to beat me then I’m happy it’s him.”
Bennett currently wears the green jersey, and after another day where he extended his lead over its usual custodian Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), the Irishman is a decent bet to still have it on his shoulders in Paris.
For Ewan, though, he’s concentrated on adding to his stage wins for the time being, but may turn his focus to green in years to come.
“I just don’t want to be too greedy, someone else can win it…I’m joking,” a laid back Ewan told the press conference.
“I came to the Tour de France without the goal of the green jersey and I think if you wait until halfway through like we are now then it’s too late because those guys have always been picking up points in the intermediate sprints. I think in a few years maybe I’ll decide to go for the green jersey.
“Five stage wins in my first two years at the Tour de France is quite an achievement and maybe the green jersey is something I can look at in the future. For now, I don’t have any regrets not going for it, it’s an added stress…I already have a lot of pressure on me to win stages.”
Ewan estimates he wants to be a pro for as many as five to ten more years, which would seem him riding in the peloton at 36 years old. If he manages to maintain a tally of three wins per edition of the Tour de France, that would see him overtake Eddy Merckx’s stage win record. But Ewan is wiser than this conjecture and won’t focus on numbers.
“There’s not really a number of Tour de France stage wins I’d like to win, I’m already really happy with my five, but obviously I want more,” he said.
“You can’t put a number on it because I’m not sure how my form will be in the years to come but I want to continue winning as much as I can…I hope in the next five, ten years, however long I’m pro, I can always be competitive.”
Ok, so what other wins are on his wish list?
“I’d like to win Milan – San Remo as well…,” he said, pausing at either end of the sentence.
“…and a World Championship…
“…and maybe a Classic in Belgium…
“…yeah…that’s about it.”