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Sam Bennett is picked for the Tour de France and the Irishman says he is ready to fight for a stage win against the other sprint challengers (Photo: Elias Rom)

Sam Bennett has marked his Tour de France selection by Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale by saying he is ready to fight it out to win a stage, to add to the two career victories he already has on the French Grand Tour.

Though the race, which gets underway in Florence on Saturday, will be packed with many of the best sprinters in the world, Bennett has beaten them all on his day. And if he can find the legs he showed season after season, and at the recent Four Days of Dunkirk, he should be in the mix.

He is part of the team line-up with a general classification challenger in the shape of Felix Gall and other potential stage winners. But the Irishman is focused on his own efforts and said he was “very happy to return to the Tour after four years of absence”.

“I want to thank the team for this incredible opportunity,” he added. “Coming back (to the Tour) with a French team is a special feeling. Succeeding in winning a stage for this team in the biggest race in the world would be even more special.

“I have time to get into the race because the start is hilly. Nevertheless, every step is important, the first opportunity will come after the opening weekend, and I hope to be ready for that. There should be eight mass sprints with plenty of contenders. I can’t wait to fight.”

Bennett goes into the Tour facing off against Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who won four stages and the green jersey last year, as well as Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny), who comprehensively beat Philipsen to win the Belgian road race title on Sunday.

Also in the sprint field at the Tour will be other sprint contenders including: Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious), Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), Fernando Gaviria (Movistar Team), Fabio Jakobsen (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco AlUla), Arnaud Démare (Arkéa-B&B Hotels) and Pascal Ackermann (Israel-Premier Tech).

Bennett won two stages in the 2020 Tour, while riding for Deceuninck-Quick Step, and also claimed the green jersey. However, a knee injury ruled him out of the 2021 Tour. And after transferring to Bora-hansgrohe for 2022 and 2023, he was not selected for the Tour.

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