Tour de France: George Bennett drops out of top-ten overall

'I was on the losing end', says Kiwi after stage 13

A day after climbing into ninth overall at the Tour de France and confirming his GC potential, the short and sharp stage 13 into Foix saw George Bennett drop to 11th.

The LottoNL-Jumbo rider explained he simply "wasn't good enough" as he rolled over the line after the brutal 101.5km of racing in 22nd place, last place in the group led over the line by Movistar's Carlos Betancur at 4:08 minutes down on stage winner Warren Barguil. The New Zealander conceded time to all his GC rivals and now finds himself over one minute down on tenth placed Alberto Contador.

"It wasn't my best day on a bike, that is for sure. It was a good bike race, a really good bike race but I was on the losing end," Bennett told SBS as he warmed down after the stage. I wasn't good enough. I don't have any reason or excuse, I just wasn't good enough."

A Tour of California winner in May, Bennett came into his second Tour with the primary objective of stage wins but after his seventh place ride into Chambéry, the GC became a realistic ambition. Eight place on stage 12 to Peyragudes lifted Bennett to ninth and having shown he can climb with the best this July, the 27-year-old explained he isn't throwing it in after a jour sans.

"There are a lot of stages left and I am disappointed now but take a couple of days and hopefully nothing too serious the next days and then I'll have to go full gas on Galibier or the stage to Izoard," he said of the third week high Alps stages to come.

Bennett was 53rd overall on his Tour debut last year before going to the Vuelta a Espana and finishing tenth overall. He moved into tenth overall at the conclusion of the penultimate stage to become the first Kiwi to finish top-ten in a Grand Tour. While disappointed with his stage, Bennett is still well placed to better Tino Tabak's 18th place overall at the 1972 Tour.

"I've have had better three weeks but it's one of those things you enjoy in hindsight. I look back at it last years Tour and it was amazing but at the time I also found it… It's just a big bloody travelling circus and it's just crazy," he said. "You always do enjoy it in hindsight. There are moments like now when you wonder why you do it sometimes but if you win or do well, it is the most amazing feeling. I am going to take stock and get back to just doing good stuff.

Sorry to disappoint today but it's not over. Take a couple of nights and get some sleep and we'll see you in a couple of days in the mountains and I'll work on recovering a bit and hopefully, I'll be there.

Bennett's sports director Frans Maassen added the team will continue to back the Kiwi and believes the top-ten remains a realistic objective.

"Something like this can happen. It is a pity it happens, you hope he is able to ride as good as he did the other days," Maassen said. "Today was a very tough day. From the start to the finish the GC favourites went full-gas.

"Contador and Quintana were much stronger than yesterday, but a top-10 position is not lost already. We have to see how we get back there because I know George is able to finish in the first 10 in Paris. Maybe tomorrow someone else has a bad day. It is still possible." 

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