Sam Bennett of Ireland, racing for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, sprinted to victory on stage 10 of the Tour de France from Île d’Oléron to Île de Ré, beating Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal to the finish line in a flat but high-speed and stressful stage through the Charente Maritime region of western France.
“I don’t think it’s hit me. I forgot to throw the bike at the line, and I thought maybe he’d got me. I thought I’d be in floods of tears and now I’m in shock,” a tearful Bennett said, who has now won stages in all three of Europe’s Grand Tours. “I want to thank everyone that’s been involved, everybody it took to get to here.”
“You dream of it and you never think it will happen,” Bennett, struggling to compose himself, said. “It took me a while before it hit me. I thought maybe I was waiting too long and maybe I was in too big a gear. Sorry, I don’t mean to be a cry baby.”
Crashes punctuated the stage with Tadej Pogacar of UAE Emirates, Guillaume Martin of Cofidis Solutions Crédits and Nicolas Roche of Team Sunweb among the numerous fallers. Further crashes, on the approach to the Île de Ré, saw former race leader and Bennett’s teammate, Julian Alaphilippe, delayed, alongside Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers.
A stage that was always expected to be nervous, on a route peppered with roundabouts and street furniture, had added spice as the race resumed in the aftermath of a battery of Covid-19 testing that saw four teams lose a member of their backroom staff and the race organisation lose Tour director Christian Prudhomme.
Those four teams, Ineos Grenadiers, Cofidis Solutions Crédits, AG2R La Mondiale and Mitchelton-Scott will now be even more vigilant over the next seven days prior to the next round of testing, scheduled for the second rest day on September 14. A second test within a week would lead to their exclusion from the rest of the Tour.
Prudhomme meanwhile, left the race and has now gone into self-isolation for a week. “I’ll do what every other French worker in the same situation would do,” Prudhomme said. “I’m going to watch the Tour on TV, which I haven’t done for 15 years.”