If Tuesday’s stage of Paris-Nice belonged to Carrick-on-Suir man Sam Bennett after he claimed a stunning victory, yesterday’s was very much about Dan Martin as he climbed right into contention for the overall.
The flyweight Quick-Step Floors climber posted a brilliant result in the 14.5-kilometre individual time-trial to move up the standings to fifth overall and just 33 seconds off the podium. He was 13th quickest over the course, just over a minute slower than his teammate Julian Alaphilippe who clocked a blistering winning time of 21:39.
The Frenchman now leads the race at the halfway point with Martin lurking in fifth at 1:20 going into today’s fifth stage. Bennett had a somewhat easier day as he wound down from the high of Tuesday’s landmark win and losing over four minutes in the test against the clock won’t trouble him in the slightest as he looks towards today’s stage which should be another one for the fast men.
The 200-kilometre trek features two categorised climbs but a bunch sprint is the expected outcome and Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly reckons the way Bennett is going, he will again be a contender before the week is out.
“You see Sam when he has that confidence that he believes anything is possible.
“And when you saw what he did on Tuesday you say, in this form there’s no reason he can’t do it again. Obviously a lot has to go right for him again like it did when he won earlier in the week but he can do it with the legs he has now.
“Paris-Nice is one of the big, big races and the way he beat some of the more renowned sprinters in the game will do wonders for his confidence now and he really will want to push on for more,” he added.
Meanwhile, Irish rider Philip Deignan has voiced his support for the embattled Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford who has been at the centre of a huge controversy surrounding the contents of a medical package used to treat Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Dauphine.
The Donegal man was asked if he firstly, was willing to back Brailsford and secondly, if the rest of the team did.
“Dave is the guy we want in the job. It was strange to see that story a few days ago about riders looking to get him out.
“It’s absolutely not true from the guys we’ve spoken to here (at Paris-Nice) and the rest of the team. It’s not true really. The vast majority of the riders, all the riders, are genuinely behind Dave,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved