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'I couldn’t have been happier for him because everyone saw how much it meant and I’ve seen how hard he’s worked'

Sam Bennett’s friend and training partner Caleb Ewan had some kind words for the Irishman after his own stage 11 win today.

WHILE IRELAND’S SAM Bennett fell agonisingly short on stage 11 of the Tour de France, his friend and training partner Caleb Ewan basked in the glory.

The Australian won the stage by the narrowest of margins after a frantic bunch sprint was decided on a photo-finish.

france-cycling-tour-de-france Sam Bennett and Caleb Ewan going wheel-to-wheel. Source: Thibault Camus

Bennett, in the green jersey, would have become the first Irish rider ever to win back-to-back stages, but he dramatically lost out. The Carrick-On-Suir man ultimately finished third today, behind Ewan and second-placed Peter Sagan — but that wasn’t the end of the drama.

Green jersey rival Sagan was relegated for shoving another rider in the sprint finish, and Bennett — now 67 points ahead in the standings for the sprinter’s prize — was promoted to second. 

He’s now 139th in the overall standings, with Primoz Roglic retaining the overall lead after another sizzling day on Le Tour.

And Ewan, the winner on the day, had a few kind words for the Irishman of the moment after the stage, as he enjoyed his own individual success.

“We live in the same apartment block,” he said. “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.

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.

“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.”

Ewan won three stages in 2019 and will he will go for a third on this Tour too by crossing the Alps to try his luck on the iconic Tour de France climax on the cobbled streets of the French capital.

“Once you get one you want two, and now I have two I want a third on the Champs Elysees in Paris,” said the diminutive sprinter who also won stage three at Sisteron.

I’m happy to give the folks back home in Australia something to cheer [for]. I came to the Tour without the goal of the green, I have two stage wins so I can’t complain. I’ll be honest I don’t want the added stress.”

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Meanwhile, Bennett shared his own thoughts afterwards ahead of Thursday’s stage, the longest of the Tour — 218km from Chauvigny to Sarran Correze.

“The guys did a fantastic job looking after me and I got to enjoy another beautiful day in this nice jersey and get a lot of support and applause from the roadside fans,” he said.

“The sprint was really nervous and I found myself in the front too early, so I drifted back a bit, but it was too late. Despite that, I tried to limit my losses and get the most out of it, get the best result I could.

“It would have been nice to add another win, but second is still a strong result in these conditions, especially as it helps me increase my lead in the points standings.”

He added on Twitter: “I don’t like losing, I don’t think any sprinter/racer does like it. But I’m happy for @CalebEwan to get yet another @LeTour victory. On a positive note, I’m still in green.”

 

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Emma Duffy

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