Just what we needed.
Sam Bennett was almost lost for words as he spoke about his Tour de France heroics which saw him become the first Irishman to win a major jersey at one of the three Grand Tours since Sean Kelly won green at the Tour de France in 1989.
The Carrick-on-Suir native produced a dramatic sprint finish at the Champs-Élysées to win the final stage and the green jersey.
Bennett crossed the line in first to beat world champion Mads Pederson while his closest rival for the green jersey Peter Sagan came in third.
Sam Bennett on Tour de France heroics
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” Bennett told Eurosport.
“Green jersey, the Champs-Élysées, the world championships of sprinting, I never thought I’d ever be able to win this stage, and to do it in green is so special.
“To do with my dream team, Team Deceuninck – Quick-Step, and the way they were with me all day… they were fantastic. Oh, it’s just so amazing, this feeling. I can’t thank everyone enough.
“Oh man, all the suffering through the mountains… so worth it now. All the years coming up and trying to make it…it took me so long to get here. I’m sorry if I’m coming across as too arrogant or anything but I’m just going to enjoy every moment of it.”
Bennett then went on to describe the final sprint and how he crossed the finish line in the most dramatic of fashions.
🏆Sam faoi agallamh i ndiaidh an bua 🏆
"I never thought I'd ever be able to win this Stage – and do do it in Green is so special" 💚
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) September 20, 2020
“We were riding at the front, coming in, and I was feeling the legs a bit. I was like, ‘Ohhh, I’m after messing this up a bit. I’m after using up too much of my legs. Dries (Devenyns) came up and asked, ‘Do you want to go back to Michael (Morkov)? It’s a little bit easier in the bunch.’
“I was a little bit nervous because the last time I was coming up the Champs-Élysées, somebody came down the back straight and broke their collar-bone. So I was nervous about riding with the bunch. It doesn’t seem fast when you see it on TV, but it’s fast downhill.
“I was a bit nervous but I went back. Then, I thought we had one lap to go but I heard, on the radio, that it was two laps and I thought, ‘Okay, I’ve time to recover’.
“And then the boys, we waited, waited, waited. The boys controlled the race, we came in under the tunnel first. Then I was thinking we went too early… (but) we were holding, holding and then into the last corner, Morkov started to open up and we had each side covered… I let them go first and I waited, then I opened up when (Pedersen’s teammate) went off the front for Mads. So I ran on that and went on the other side where I thought it was smooth.
“I thought there was going to be someone coming past me but, oh, I can’t believe I got it!”
With all that has happened in what has been a very difficult year for people in Ireland, Bennett’s amazing achievement is a much-needed boost.