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Life in the gruppetto of a grand tour works at a very different speed and the Vuelta a España logistics crew was packing up the podium as Sam Bennett stepped up for his green jersey ceremony following stage 6.
The Bora-Hansgrohe sprinter wasn’t quite the last person across the line atop the Pico Jano, but he finished in the last major group at 36:18 behind the stage winner Jay Vine.
The team’s press officer later posted a video of the Irishman on the podium as race staff were already tearing it down to ensure it was in place at the finish of stage 7.
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Bennett, who is too late to even get a new green jersey to put on, bows and waves to the imaginary crowds and the video pans around to see a van parked immediately in front of the podium. He gives his hat to one of the crew before heading off to get out of the rain.
“Yesterday, it was grand. The gruppetto were quite far back and by the time I got changed and got to the podium everybody was packing up. There was nobody there,” Bennett said ahead of stage 7.
“I suppose if only had one day in the jersey and you and this was your first time in a jersey then you’d want to experience it and get the opportunity to stand on the podium,” he added when asked if there should be a podium ceremony for riders finishing late on a mountain stage.
— Stephanie Constand (@stephconstand) August 25, 2022
Bennett is currently in a tight battle with Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) for the Vuelta’s green points jersey. The Dane is only nine points behind Bennett heading into stage 7 and is looking to grasp it from his shoulders ahead of the weekend.
A first-category climb right in the middle of stage 7 is going to eliminate most of the sprinters in the pack. With the intermediate sprint after the climb and a possible breakaway win on the cards, Pederson sees the stage as an opportunity to take the classification lead.
Bennett knows that his rival is going to try and go up the road and he’s happy to let him do it. The Irishman knows his limits and feels it’s better to save his energy for next week.
“I just want to get through today and save everything for next week. We’ll probably give Mads the jersey today and then see what we can do next week,” he said.
“We’ll let him use the legs today. You know that they’re going to go hard, and I don’t do 20k climbs so, for today, we’ll let him off. We always knew that we were going to have to lose it for a bit because that’s the way the stages are, so we’ll enjoy it while we have it, and then later on when there are sprints we’ll try to get it again.”