Now that the dust has settled from what was an electrifying finish to the 107th edition of the Tour de France, we reflect with Sean Kelly on what was a resounding three-week thriller.
With the yellow jersey changing hands on the final time trial to provide last day drama and former An Post/ CRC Vitus rider Sam Bennett finishing in Green, Sean discusses the big talking points in team selection, his final thoughts on the tour, and of course what everyone here at Vitus HQ wanted to see, Sam Bennett winning the green jersey.
"Team selection this year has of course been a big talking point before the tour, with big names being left out and some teams opting for an early selection. I think this is what ultimately played into Team Jumbo Visma's hands, naming their team six months ago seems to have worked out well and they outperformed most people's expectations and were unlucky to narrowly miss out on that yellow jersey. The big factor on all the teams this year was of course having no racing in the lead up to the tour and this lead to big names not being selected like Froome. I would question the decision to leave out (Geraint) Thomas however. Last year with very little racing before the tour, he finished second, of course, perhaps he was told he would have to ride for Bernal and not be a co-leader so didn't want to ride the tour under those circumstances.”
The headline-grabbing story of Sam Bennett was something being closely followed by the Vitus team and of course by Sean. Sam’s time on a Vitus riding for the An Post/CRC team shaped his early career and we were all rooting for him to finish in green, proud to see him achieve just that with so much style.
Sam Bennett of Ireland, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, celebrates on the podium after the twenty-first and last stage of the 2020 Tour de France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
“For Sam to win the (green) jersey it was a huge achievement, being up against Sagan and being under pressure throughout the tour. To soak up that pressure as well as he did and decide it with three laps to go on the Champs Elysees, allowing him to focus on the final stage, and of course, winning that stage was fantastic! It was magnificent work from him and the team and was a dream ending.
The confidence he’ll take from this will be massive. Leaving the tour, he’ll come out of it physically stronger, knowing his stamina is fantastic but also mentally stronger, being able to keep his focus as well as he did. I think because of that he’ll be much more successful in the one-day races, where he hasn’t really been pushed by the teams he’s been in, having the success he’s had in the tour will see him be up there and fighting for the classic wins.
Looking back at Sam’s progress, I truly feel his time with the An Post/ CRC team shaped him and without that, I’d be really concerned that he would have never made it. The time he spent with the team and especially with Kurt Bogaerts (Team DS), overcoming injury and working so hard together was a major part in the making of his career and formed a close friendship lasting to this day”
We’re happy to see the return of racing, to see an iconic event like The Tour de France go ahead while keeping everyone involved safe is massively encouraging. We’ve enjoyed talking to Sean and sharing his thoughts and memories of this iconic race with our community, as we set our eyes firmly to the future and the return of Vitus to the highest level of competition, and back to the Tour in the coming years.