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Rough Ride

'I couldn’t even walk to the dinner table' - Why Sam Bennett quit the Tour de France

Irish youngster reveals the physical toll that the race took on him.

IRISH RIDER SAM Bennett has spoken about the exhaustion that forced him to abandon the Tour de France yesterday.

The 24-year-old Carrick-on-Suir man described the mental and physical suffering of competing in the world’s biggest bike race for 17 stages and the despair at having to withdraw four days from the finish.

Bennett had been “getting it rough” from an early stage in the race but battled on, even when he was the last man on the General Classification and even when he was urinating blood.

“I had shit preparation and zero condition,” he recalled of his build-up to the race.

“I was getting it hard on the first day and on day five I thought I was gone. But I kept fighting each day, I kept going.

“I knew it was something I had to go through for my development so I wanted to push through the pain and I think it was important to get as far into the race as possible.

“I wanted to harden myself and the thought of being a better rider is what kept me going.”

But things took a turn for the worse when his physical condition deteriorated these last few days.

Four or five days ago I started urinating blood because I was throwing the bike around so much trying to hang on and I damaged something.

“That was one problem and then on Tuesday’s rest day I got a really bad virus and was in bed with all my clothes on under the quilt in 30 degree heat and I just slept 18 hours.

“I couldn’t even walk down to the dinner table I was so fucked.

“And then I had to go on an antibiotic. That was for the urinating problem.

“I knew I was in trouble, all my joints and muscles were so sore.”

And when yesterday’s stage got off to a lightning start, in blistering temperatures, with five categorised climbs to crest, Bennett knew the game was up.

“I thought I wouldn’t even get to start yesterday but when I got up I was so much better than the day before.

I said we’d go again, I got everything ready, tried to stay positive. But I was fighting from kilometre zero. I wanted to keep going but the body wouldn’t let me.

“Two kilometres into the stage I got dropped, I got back in on a descent though.

“But I was getting dropped on the flat and was already off the back. I was on my hands and knees at that point,” he added disconsolately.

“I was only 35 minutes into the race and I heard it was 6k to the first climb. They were racing up it and I had nothing left. I had to stop.

“The team car pulled up, I pulled over and that was it. I had nothing left.”

This morning he’ll head back to his base in Monaco and look back on an incredible journey that took him here in the first place.

My ego has definitely taken a knock but I now know what’s expected to compete in this race.

“That will make me a better rider. I came here under no illusions. Now, I’ll just go home, lick my wounds, freshen up and prepare for more races.”

– First published at 10.45

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