It began as a quest to right the wrongs of 2015, but four hours into the 90 it took him to finish it, Sam Bennett’s race for Tour de France redemption was effectively over.
An opening-day pile-up in the bunch sprint ended one of the few chances he had to win and the subsequent injuries he sustained floored him for the next three weeks.
That he finished the race and became just the 10th Irishman to do so in the French capital last night will come as little consolation to the Carrick native.
For a man who is disgusted by losing, being ‘celebrated’ for taking the lanterne rouge as the last man on general classification doesn’t sit easily with him.
“It’s hard to say what I feel, I’m just a bit f**ked at the minute.
“I’ve put in a good fight to stay in the race, so I’m happy to be here.
“I just have to have a sense of humour about it.
“The first week was the hardest, I really had to suffer then. The second week was a bit easier. My head was keeping me from getting up in a bunch sprint, it was too frightening a prospect to really consider.”
He did manage to pluck up the courage to contest the sprint that decided the race last night, though the best he could manage was ninth as Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) took the honours from green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved