New Zealander George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), who slid from fourth to 23rd overall on Monday, accepts the downsides of being in a team stacked with talent in the 2019 Tour de France.
In the crosswinds to Albi, stage 10, Bennett was called to fetch water bottles in a critical moment. Doing so, he missed the split and lost 9-41 minutes.
“It’s just part of being on a great team, you need to make these sacrifices. It’s important to do the same because I’ll be asking these things of other people,” Bennett explained.
“In that situation, Stevie [Kruijswijk] was not going to get bottles and then we had Tony Martin who was keeping the guys at the front, Dylan Groenewegen and his lead-out train, so that kind of leaves me.
“It’s one of the downsides of being in a really stacked team where they all can win. Then you have a guy like me who would be a GC leader on another team, you are on helping duties.”
Bennett made the Jumbo-Visma eight-man Tour roster to support Dutchman Kruijswijk in the overall fight against Team Ineos and others. Kruijswijk nearly won the 2016 Giro d’Italia and placed fifth overall in the 2018 Tour.
He said: “I knew that before I came to the Tour, they told me to leave any ambition at home. I am doing my best to do that, because we are natural racers and we want to go for a result but it’s just that you have to play your part.”
The split happened at 35km to go in the crosswinds on the open roads to Albi. Just beforehand, the team worried that their riders did not have enough water bottles.
“The team car was under the impression that we really had to get bottles, everyone needed one,” Bennett added.
“They said come get bottles, then the sh*t hit the fan and it was game over.”
Bennett, 23rd overall at 10 minutes behind virtual classification leader Geraint Thomas, says it really does not matter because his job is to help Kruijswijk against Thomas, Egan Bernal and others.
“He’s really good, I see him racing conservatively, just following and trying to get a result that way. That’s his strength, not getting tired,” continued Bennett.
“I don’t think you’ll see anything like Alpe d’Huez last year. We have to let other teams do it. We are not going to do something like that just for the TV, but we will watch for opportunities and go for a smart strategy, just not get tired, not have a bad day, or what ever.”
Bennett believes “it’s possible” to beat Ineos, winner of six Tours in the last seven years.
“Yeah definitely,” he said. “It’s not easy, it’s not probably likely, but it’s definitely possible.”