Sam Bennett looked primed to complete his Grand Tour stage win set on the opening day of the 2020 Tour de France, but slight tactical mistakes and the enduring power of Alexander Kristoff left him thinking of what could have been.
Luckily, he’s only had to wait a day for another shot at crossing the line first, and the Irishman may be able to fly under the radar a bit easier with team-mate Julian Alaphilippe having taken the yellow jersey after winning stage two.
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“I think for the team as a whole it takes the pressure off but I still have pressure on myself,” Bennett said before stage three.
“I think it just means we can sit back a little bit more, let the other teams control it for the sprints. We have a stage win now, we can’t work for the yellow and go for the sprint stages so the other teams are going to have to pull their weight a bit,” he added.
Lotto-Soudal, who boast another of the strongest sprinters at this year’s race in Caleb Ewan, are also unlikely to contribute too much to marshalling the peloton and ensure a bunch sprint, having lost Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb on the first day, finding themselves already reduced to a squad of six.
On stage one, Bennett hesitated, letting Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) in front of him and onto lead-out man Michael Mørkøv’s wheel, then trapping himself in traffic as Alexander Kristoff and world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) flew up the right-hand side.
“It looks pretty much straight so I’ll just try and get a clear run to the finish line,” Bennett concluded.