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Ireland's Tour De France hero Sam Bennett won't defend his title at National Championships

The 29-year-old has confirmed his absence ahead of the weekend.

Ireland's Sam Bennett celebrates on the podium after the 21st and last stage of the Tour de France.
Ireland's Sam Bennett celebrates on the podium after the 21st and last stage of the Tour de France.
Image: Stephane Mantey

IRELAND’S TOUR DE France hero Sam Bennett has confirmed his absence from this weekend’s Cycling Ireland Road National Championships, and in turn, will not defend the title he won last year.

Bennett landed the National Championship crown for the first time in Derry last June, edging out Eddie Dunbar in an entertaining finale.

But the Carrick-on-Suir man won’t be able to repeat the feat this year, confirming his decision to opt out on Intsagram today.

“Unfortunately I will not be able to defend my title this year at the Irish National Championship due to goals set out by myself and my team for the remainder of the season,” he wrote.

“I am also trying to limit the health risks of traveling. It was my dream to wear this jersey at some of the biggest cycling races in the world.

“I always tried my best to represent it to the best of my abilities. After 25 podiums, 11 of which were wins (2 Tour de France, 2 Vuelta a Espana), 3 points classification jerseys including the Tour de France green jersey, my last race as Irish National Champ was a win on the Champs-Élysées wearing green.

“A perfect end to my time as Irish National Champion.”

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Screenshot 2020-09-30 at 17.09.58 Source: Sam Bennett Instagram.

10 days ago, the 29-year-old stormed to victory and clinched the green jersey on the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris.

Bennett’s win on the Champs-Elysees saw him become the first Irishman to win a major jersey at one of the three Grand Tours since Sean Kelly won green at Le Tour in 1989.

The Deceuninck-QuickStep sprinter’s dream journey will not continue in Limerick however, where the action takes place behind closed doors with the individual time trial for all categories — including paracycling — on Thursday.

Saturday brings the men’s senior, U23 and junior road race, with the women’s senior, masters and junior road race slated in for Sunday. Nicolas Roche and Ryan Mullen are among the confirmed starters in the men’s senior race, with Bennett’s title on the line.

Cycling Ireland and RTÉ Sport yesterday confirmed that highlights of this year’s championships will be broadcast on RTÉ2 at 7pm on Monday, 5 October.

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Emma Duffy

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