Sam Bennett optimistic after near-miss in France

Irish cyclist finished second in stage at Région Pays de la Loire Tour

Sam Bennett went close to landing his first win of the season on Wednesday, proving best in a group sprint at the end of stage two of the Région Pays de la Loire Tour in France, but was caught out by lone attacker Ewen Costiou (Arkéa-B&B Hotels).

Frenchman Costiou had been part of an eight-man group which was still towards the end of the stage and who jumped clear just before their recapture. Surging with a kilometre to go, he reached the line eight seconds clear of the group led in by Bennett.

“I was hoping for the win for me and for the team but second is still a good result,” the Irishman said. “The guys were looking after me and put me in a good position in the final. Of course, you always want to win, but the guys from Arkéa did a great race and they deserve the win.”

Bennett has been in good shape this season but has lacked sharpness in the sprint. He has been working hard in the gym of late to dial this in, and things seem to be paying off.

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“The legs are feeling better. I can fight for positions, and the strength is coming back,” he said. “There are still two stages left, let’s see what we can do.”

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