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Sam Bennett says his and his team’s efforts are making progress at the Tour de France, though they have more work to do (Photo: Billy Ceusters-ASO)

A two-time stage winner at the Tour de France, including in the green jersey into Paris four years ago, Sam Bennett recaptured his winning form last month and came into this year’s edition of the French Grand Tour in search of a victory.

With four of the likely eight sprinters’ stages now completed, the Irish’s best result is 6th, which he claimed on today’s stage 10 into Saint-Amand-Montrond. His being bumped into the wind by Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty), and out of the slipstream of Pascal Ackermann (Israel Premier Tech) didn’t help his cause.

However, Bennett never looked like getting close to eventual winner Jasper Philipsen» (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and the Irish rider was blunt in his appraisal of his and his team’s performance so far and what the expectations are at this Tour.

“It’s in progress and I don’t want it to sound arrogant, but it’s not good enough,” Bennett said of his performance at the Tour, coming just weeks after his four stage wins and overall victory at Four Days of Dunkirk.

“It’s a step forward, but we are here to get stage wins, to get close to the podium, and to achieve consistency. Today I had a pretty decent position coming out of the last corner.

“(I was) trying to leave just a bit of a gap with Pascal Ackermann because he normally jumps early. I was hoping he would do that to close the gap and stay in his slipstream. But Biniam (Girmay) came in and stuck me in the wind, I didn’t get that slipstream.”

It is possible Bennett – and the other sprinters – will get another chance to aim for victory on Thursday’s stage 12; some 203.6km from Aurillac to Villeneuve-sur-Lot, though there are some lumps and bumps in the final.

The following day – Friday’s stage 13 – looks like a clearer chance, if a breakaway doesn’t make it, as the 165lkm from Agen to Pau is flat aside from a couple of cat 4s, the last of which is crested some 40km from the finish.

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