A debut Tour de France start continues to elude one of New Zealand cycling’s greatest lieutenants. Sam Bewley came so close to selection for the 2019 edition of the race, but his attention will now turn to the Vuelta a Espana.

Sam Bewley has completed six grand tours since he first took on the art of the three-week challenge back in 2013.  He has failed to finish just that first Vuelta out of the seven he has started.  He has a team time trial stage win to his name from the Giro d’Italia, and he is one of a selection of riders to have done the Giro-Vuelta double in one season.  At 31 years of age there is one race that he has yet to get an opportunity at though; the Tour de France.

Unquestionably, Sam Bewley is one of the silent soldiers of New Zealand cycling.  His personal results don’t reflect his contributions to cycling in the Mitchelton-SCOTT set up; a team he has been a part of since 2012.  He has supported Esteban Chaves to podium finishes in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, he was part of history very nearly being made by Simon Yates last year at the Giro and he was due to support the Brit at this year’s Giro until a late crash at the Tour de Romandie derailed that goal.

Attention turned, then, to whether Bewley might finally make the Tour de France team for the first time.  After ten years in the professional peloton, and at 31 years of age, surely there could be no better time to take to the start line for the Grande Boucle.  As reported by Cyclingnews, Bewley was on the long list of riders up for consideration for the race that begins this Saturday night New Zealand time.  Along with Bewley were Mikel Nieve, Luke Durbridge, Luka Mezgec, Daryl Impey, Matteo Trentin, Chris Juul-Jensen, Damien Howson and  Michael Hepburn all up for potential selection.

Sam Bewley sheltered Simon Yates through a sensational campaign at the Giro in 2018, photo Sirotti

There are a few eyes raised at the riders not in the Mitchelton-SCOTT Tour de France team.  Esteban Chaves, Mikel Nieve, Luka Mezgec, Damien Howson; all class bike riders who missed out on selection for the Tour.  But maybe this is the closest Sam Bewley has come to Tour de France selection himself.

Matt White told Cyclingnews how close Bewley came to being part of the team.  “If there was a nine-man roster he would be in there,” White said.  “When you’re looking at making a group of eight it’s really hard.  He can handle the workload, but he falls in between some of the climbers and some of the riders on the flat.  You’ve got to make hard decisions.  You also only can’t have eight guys prepare for the Tour and hope that they don’t suffer illness or injury.  We have learned that the hard way in the past.”

Bewley is set to join compatriot Shane Archbold at the Vuelta a Espana; joining Esteban Chaves and Mikel Nieve for his fifth ride in Spain.  Archbold, also missing out on the Tour, has come on leaps and bounds since his return to the World Tour peloton and will be targeting the Vuelta where he can support BORA-Hansgrohe teammate and newly crowned Irish national champion Sam Bennett.

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