Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick Step) became the first Irish rider in more than three decades to lead a Tour de France classification, after racking up 40 points during Wednesday’s 183-kilometre stage 5 from Gap to Privas. The last Irish rider to lead a Tour de France classification was fellow Carrick-on-Suir man Sean Kelly who won the green and red jerseys in 1989. Stephen Roche was also the leader of the points classification for a number of stages during his Tour win in 1987.
A man on a mission at the start of the day, the 29-year-old showed his intentions early, at the intermediate sprint, where a masterful lead-out by team-mate Michael Mørkøv left him in a perfect position to take maximum points in L’Épine. Mørkøv took second with classification leader Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) taking fourth. This result put Bennett into the virtual lead in the green jersey competition.
Going into the final kilometres of this stage – which featured narrow roads and a series of roundabouts – Bennett moved through up the peloton before the uphill drag to the line. Despite having to come from behind, Bennett unleashed a huge acceleration that saw him finish in third as Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took the win.
The points picked up in Privas, combined with those at the intermediate sprint, helped the Irish Champion climb into the lead of the green jersey standings for the first time in his career, a performance which gave him a lot of satisfaction, despite missing out on the stage win.
“It was a really hectic sprint, and to be honest, at three kilometres to go I felt that I didn’t have the legs to sprint anymore,” said Bennett. “The final was really difficult, I could feel that as we were approaching the line. I was focused today on taking the green jersey and having it and following in the footsteps of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche feels amazing. I am delighted and proud with it and want to enjoy this moment and continue fighting for green.”
Unfortunately for Deceuninck – Quick Step, Julian Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey at the end of the day, after the jury penalized him 20 seconds for taking a bottle inside the last 20 kilometres of the stage. The only Frenchman to have won a stage so far at this edition, Alaphilippe now sits in 16th place, 16 seconds behind Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), the race’s new leader.