Even though it was a great personal and professional moment for Sam Bennett when he won one of the most magnificent final stage victories in Tour de France history on Sunday that great achievement, that moment in the brightest sun was tinged with some unavoidable sadness.
Despite a gruelling three weeks, 21 stages, 58,000m of climbing, 3,482km of road and becoming the first Irish racer to win one of cycling's coveted jerseys since Seán Kelly won it in Paris 31 years ago the wretched pandemic meant Bennett's heartfelt celebrations were muffled through a Covid-19 mask. Not only that, his masked parents and friends could not join him and could only celebrate from a distant Carrick-on-Suir.
Yesterday was really a dream come true and to win on the Champs Élysées with @deceuninck_qst in the maillot vert was definitely part of that dream.— Sam Bennett (@Sammmy_Be) September 21, 2020
Can't thank Julian, Bob, Tim, Dries, Kasper, Remi and Michael enough. #TheWolfpack
📸 @lapedalecc pic.twitter.com/VlAxyhSJh2
Sporting achievement is fickle and transient as Leinster discovered this weekend but some Everests are so significant that they endure long beyond the moment. Bennett's achievement is one of those despite the shadow cast in it by Covid-19.