While Adam Yates is still unsure of how he feels wearing the yellow jersey, having fallen into it after Julian Alaphilippe was docked time on stage five of the Tour de France, it’s a different story for Sam Bennett.
The Irish sprinter says he thoroughly enjoyed his first-ever day wearing the green jersey, and even people mistaking him for Peter Sagan, the usual owner leader of the points classification at the French Grand Tour.
“It was amazing,” Bennett said of his day in green. “Kind of funny at times, sometimes people thought I was Peter [Sagan], they’re so used to seeing him in green, even on the roadside, people shouting ‘Sagan!’ at me, they’re not used to it.”
Bennett still received support, though, and hopes his journey to the top of the sport can inspire youth riders back in Ireland.
“It was a lovely experience, I also heard my name being shouted a lot. Got a lot of support and all the lovely messages from people at home last night, to see the support I have from the Irish fans is great.
“Cycling [in Ireland] over the last few years hasn’t been the biggest sport, since Roche and Kelly were around, so I’m hoping us Irish guys now are bringing a bit more interest back.”
Bennett arrived at the Tour with stage wins at the front and centre of his ambitions. After a few near misses, however, he may try and challenge Sagan for green.
“It’s actually hard work to try and get this jersey,” the Deceuninck – Quick-Step sprinter explained. “There are three parts to watch: who gets in the break, who’s going for the intermediate and then to do the final. It’s very hard and I might start feeling it in the last week but we’ll take it day-by-day and I’ll try and go again tomorrow.”
Bennett’s plan for winning green is a developing one, having tested the waters over the opening stages and just making sure he took some points at intermediate sprints to keep him amongst it. While he’s in the lead now, he doesn’t expect Sagan to give up what is usually his jersey without a fight.
“At the beginning, you could see at the intermediate sprints I was just following wheels and collecting points and then all of a sudden I was very close,” Bennett said.
“I thought I’ll try and get [the green jersey] for a day. But now I’m here we’ll see if we can control it. It’s working out at the moment but Peter’s won it so many times I’m sure his true colours will come out in the last week.”
The green jersey could come at a cost, though, and Bennett is now contemplating switching focus from taking Tour stage wins, something he’s not done yet in his career, to trying to wear green into Paris on stage 21.
“I wasn’t planning on trying to win it, it was something I had in the back of my mind. Initially, it was about getting a stage win but maybe now I’ll have to sacrifice that to try and keep this.”