• Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18)(R) came close to the win on Stage 1 of the 2016 Criterium du Dauphine (Sirotti)Source: Sirotti
Irish sprinter Sam Bennett appeared pained as he warmed down alone outside the Bora-Argon 18 bus at the end of stage one of the Criterium du Dauphine.
7 Jun 2016 - 9:33 AM 

The 25-year-old was cooled off with water as he individually spoke with passing staff and teammates, who positively acknowledged his third place behind winner Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) in the bunch sprint finale.

Bennett looked more the diligent student than a sprinter that had just navigated an aggressive finish in which Cofidis and Katusha literally butted heads at the front of the peloton in a high-speed run to the line in Saint-Vulbas.

He made no mention of the assault between the two teams and simply analysed, with some self-deprecation, his own performance where he purposefully chose to open his sprint with 300m remaining.

“So many times this season I have gone too late and then couldn’t get out, or come around, so it was a really fast finish and I decided to go really early,” Bennett said.

“I went at 300, to choose my line, so I didn’t have to go around guys. I thought I had it inside the last 100m and Bouhanni came around with somebody else on his wheel. I was devastated.

“I suppose you can take confidence away from it,” he countered. “I had to go in the wind so much inside the last kilometre and I could still go, but nobody wants to come third.”

Bora-Argon 18 has previously this season outlined designs to mimic the lead-out train developed around Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in its effort to support Bennett.

However, the outfit was not amid the sea of red jerseys that boxed on at the front of the peloton in Monday’s frenetic finish.

“There’s so many lead-out trains that we decided to not really have a train today. It worked out really well because you see so many guys looking for each other, wasting time,” Bennett said.

“If it’s just two or three of us, we can float around and you’re more likely going to get in on somebody when you’re on your own. Nobody wants to let in a full train, but if you’re just one guy they’re kind of okay with it, not okay with it, but they’re a bit more lenient.”

Bennett is hopeful a strong performance at the Dauphine will secure a start in the Tour de France next month. He made his career debut with the team, rumoured to be interested in a WorldTour licence for 2017, last season.

“I think tomorrow [the plan will be to] recover a bit, get inside the time limit. Then, stage three looks like another day that will be really hard. The last climb [at] 20km to go I think it is, if I can get over that with some sort of legs I’ll have another go.”