On stage 14 of Lyon, the Bora-Hansgrohe rider must have had a day for the break and made it – or at least most – all about classification. As soon as he came on stage, he beat Sam Bennett (DeSkink-Quickstep) by 63 points. They then reduced the deficit to five points at the intermediate point, and pulled back the fourth-placed 18 manners at the finish line, and Bennett’s lead was down to 43 points.
Bennett initially tried to walk the first climb of the Côte du Chato D’Alteribe when Sagan and his team caught pace, but the Irishman scored 15 points on the intermediate sprint toward the summit with the summit, which soon followed. . The breakdown of Stephen Kung (Groupama-FDJ) and Edward Thans (Trek-Segfredo).
At Col du Béal, the Bora team accelerated once more, and Bennett was dropped near the summit of the second-class climb. The gap hovered for about 30 seconds but with a short descent before the ascent of the Cote de Couretu, the Irishman and his companions pacing him began to lose ground. With 80km to go on the podium, they moved to the line with Bennett eventually finishing 106th, and down about 20 minutes on the front group.
The time interval was irrelevant, but Sagan managed to take the points ahead, as he was 15 seconds behind stage winner Soren Craig Anderson. For Bennett, it was a more difficult phase in the Tour de France, and with Sagan chasing for every single point available, the battle for the green jersey could go down the wire.
“It was a tough day,” Bennett said after the stage in the Mix Zone. I had a much better day than yesterday, sensation-wise. Yesterday I died, this morning I was a new man.
“In the first intermediate sprint, I saw what Bora was doing, trying to harm me, so I let them go … but, later, I missed one last kilometer on the long climb and there I was. I lost my chance. Today I did not do that. Take a lot from me, I feel good.
“And of course I want to thank my teammates that they still did a great job today. I am in a better position than yesterday. I was afraid that I might not come back from yesterday’s effort, because when You go too deep on a tour. De France said that you normally pay for it… but today I am a new man. I hope tomorrow is an easy day, “Bennett said.
Luckily for Bennett, stage 15 – while it ends at a summit – sees the race’s intermediate sprint come after a 58 km rolling field. If and when Sagan goes into the offensive position, the Irishman, who is the fastest of the two, should be able to hold his own.