The family of Ireland's latest sporting superstar, Sam Bennett, have spoken about the years of dedication and sacrifice their son has made to make it to the top of the cycling world.
Bennett grabbed headlines around the world on Sunday evening in Paris when he stormed to a marvellous victory on the Champs Elysees on the final stage of the Tour de France, while also claiming the green jersey as winner of the points classification.
Not since 1989 has an Irish rider finished the race as winner of any classification, but Carrick-on-Suir man Bennett ended that long wait in some style.
The jersey was a fitting end to a brilliant three weeks for the 29-year old, where he claimed two wins - the other on stage 10. And nobody was more deserving of it, said his mother Helen.
“I remember him coming home after many a cold day out training and the newspaper would wet on his chest, his feet hypothermic, and we would be putting warm towels around him and giving him drinks to heat him up,” she recalled on WLR.
“You'd really want to love it to do it. He has made so many sacrifices, from getting off airplanes at God knows what hour of the morning, taking a bus down the country and us meeting him, and getting on a bus the next morning and going back out to another country.
“The dedication and the sacrifice and everything, it didn't come easy for Sam. But by God, he deserves every minute of it.”
His father Michael, a former professional footballer in Belgium where Sam was born, echoed those sentiments.
“I am just on a high, we're thrilled, but it's going to take some time to sink in because of the years and years of dedication,” he acknowledged.
“What it takes to get there, to the highest level of international sport with all the major nations, the years and years of work behind the scenes...
“Everyone sees him crossing the line but what they might not see is how he has given up his teenage years and the last 10 years for this moment.”