George Bennett survived a mid-stage crash to complete stage 18 of the Tour de France and continue to support the podium aspirations of team leader Steven Kruijswijk.
The first Alpine stage packed a punch for all-comers, with the yellow jersey remaining on the shoulders of Julian Alaphilippe. The climb of the Col du Galibier, however, revealed more chinks in his armour that the likes of Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Thibaut Pinot and Emanuel Buchmann in particular all looked to exploit.
Bennett, on the other hand, had a day of very mixed fortunes with it emerging that he’d crashed twice over the course of the day. The nastiest of those was the tumble that he experienced on the descent of the Col de Vars. Heading down the mountain in the GC group, Bennett hit the deck after Team Sunweb’s Nicolas Roche went down right in front of him. Left with nowhere to go, the Kiwi went down and looked to be in significant pain as he was immediately attended to by the race doctor.
Thankfully, Bennett was able to remount and continue on, regaining contact with the GC group that slowed through the feed zone. The battle for them truly commenced on the final two climbs of the day and Bennett was able to be of assistance to Steven Kruijswijk.
After the stage Bennett took to Twitter to respond to all the messages of encouragement that had come his way from an understandably concerned fanbase. Bennett said, “Thanks for the message, absolute a******* of a day, but nothing that will stop me getting amongst it tomorrow.”
He will need to be amongst it tomorrow for his team leader as stages 19 and 20 are set to be two of the most nerve-wracking and exciting stages in the Tour’s recent history. Just 90 seconds separates the yellow jersey from second placed Egan Bernal, with Geraint Thomas 5 seconds further back and Bennett’s teammate Kruijswijk now 4th at 1.47mins.
Tomorrow’s stage is just 126.5km but takes in five climbs including the HC Col de l’Iseran and the final cat 1 Monteé de Tignes before levelling out with 3km to go.