The painfully steep summit finish of La Camperona on stage 13 of the Vuelta a España put a number of the general classification contenders in trouble. George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) was one of the big losers of the day after he lost more than a minute to most of the overall contenders.
After a strong opening half of the race, Bennett was in 11th place overall at the start of the day and was within a minute of second placed Simon Yates.
Following La Camperona, Bennett has dropped just three places in the overall standings but is now more than three minutes behind the Mitchelton-Scott rider. The LottoNL-Jumbo didn’t know what had happened but told Cyclingnews that he had nothing left to give in the final kilometres of the stage.
"It was pretty hard. A big break went and I got my ass handed to me on the last climb. I had a shocker. It's a bit disappointing," was Bennett's summation of the day to Cyclingnews.
"I just had a shocker. I wasn't pushing any watts, that's for sure. That's cycling – it happens. You have some good days and bad days."
Asked if he believed it was a one-off, he responded, “I hope so, and if it's not then I'll do my best and keep going."
Bennett tried to look on the bright side and put his performance into perspective but the disappointment was still clear in his voice as he warmed down outside his team bus partway down the climb that had been his undoing.
There are still two more stern mountain tests to come before the second rest day, with Saturday's summit offering to Les Praeres another brutally steep affair, followed by Lagos de Covadonga the day after. There's not much he can do but to keep calm and carry on and hope that he can turn things around.
"I have to keep going and plod along. You have bad days and I haven't had too many this year. I wouldn't have said that I was really on a bad day but I had absolutely nothing on the climb," explained Bennett. "I couldn't even go deep – I just had to ride to the finish. I had a bit of a shocker, but it's not the end of the world. It's a bike race – whatever. I tried hard, the team did a great job, but I wasn't good enough. I just didn't have the legs.
"As to why that is, I just don't know. All through Poland and the first week [of the Vuelta], I felt as if I was one of the strongest, and today I was just kicking rocks at the back of the peloton. The mysteries of cycling. It's a bike race and life goes on."