George Bennett has reflected on the end of the road. The Romans-sur-Isére stage of the Tour de France proved to be a step too far for the Kiwi in his second Tour de France, and he was forced to abandon. Bennett revealed just how weak and empty he felt, which followed a sudden bout of sickness that cropped up during the second rest day of the race.
The day began badly and only got worse for George Bennett in stage 16 of the Tour de France. While the battle for the early stages took place between two main groups – the first containing the yellow jersey, the GC contenders and Team Sunweb, and the second containing a number of the best sprinters including the green jersey of Marcel Kittel – sadly George was not part of either of them.
Speaking after the stage Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said, “He did not feel well for a few days now. Yesterday afternoon he became sick. This morning the fever was gone and we decided to start. If you have an easy day, it is possible to survive. But today was a very tough day.”
Looking back on his cut-short-stage Bennett said, “I felt weak, I am empty. I was in pain in places I didn’t even know could hurt. It should have been an easy day to survive for me, but that was not the case. I felt like I sprinted all the way, but in reality, I almost went backwards.”
Verhoeven commented, “Right from the start, he was in trouble and after that he dropped from the group with Kittel and Groenewegen. He did not want to stop. He is a fighter and wants to continue, but at a certain point you are just completely empty.”
The decision to abandon came after Bennett found himself in a group containing two other riders, Laurent Pichon and Daniel McLay. Had George been able to continue on with the pair he would have arrived home 26.17mins down on stage winner Michael Matthews; the last group on the road. He would also have dropped outside the top 20, to 23rd overall.
From there he would have been no threat to anyone in the top ten overall, and would have found more freedom to do what he’d come to the Tour de France to do in the first place; go up the road in search of a stage win. But that, alas, will not be the case now.
“It is devastating to leave the Tour. It is one of the worst feelings for a bike racer. Thanks again for all the support the last weeks,” Bennett said.