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Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España: COVID-19 ends Sam Bennett’s green jersey hopes

The Irishman pulled out of the Spanish grand tour ahead of his time trial start.

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Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) has become the 15th rider to drop out of the Vuelta a España after testing positive for COVID-19.

Bennett had been scheduled to start the stage 10 time trial at 14:09 local time and he posted on social media about warming up for the stage, but he was not on the start ramp to begin his effort.

The team did not immediately confirm Bennett’s abandon or the reason for it, with his teammate Ryan Mullen initially confirming that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s shame for the team, Sam [Bennett] and myself. Sam is a great guy and he came back to his best form, and unfortunately, Covid has caught up to him along,” Mullen told Lavuelta.es. “It’s a massive shame. Sam is gonna be disappointed. He deserves to be here, he’s put the work in, and he’s showed he’s back to his best. I’m sure he would have won the green jersey.”

Bora-Hansgrohe did later confirm the news.

“Sam Bennett returned a positive antigen test this morning, and also showed some symptoms. Therefore we decided that he wouldn’t start today’s stage,” the team wrote.

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The rest day saw a swath of riders pulling out due to a positive COVID-19 tests, with Ethan Hayter, Mathias Norsgaard, Harry Sweeny, and Jose Herrada among those who pulled out in the last 24 hours.

Bennett won the opening two road stages of the Vuelta, putting behind him a lengthy period of recovery following a knee injury in the summer of 2021.

The Irishman was locked in a fight with Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) for the green jersey. The had spent much of the opening week of the race in the jersey, losing it to Pedersen over the mountainous weekend stages.

He was just five points behind Pedersen in the classification and was hoping to take the green jersey back later this week.