Considering that Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) spent much of last week on antibiotics in order to recovery from a urinary infection his third place on the opening stage of the Arctic Race of Norway represented an mini-victory in itself.
Bennett finished third on the stage behind local favourites Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) in Harstad. The Irishman still made the podium, picking up the white jersey as the best young rider.
"I didn't know what to expect when I came into this race but I was in a great position and did my best to hold onto third," Bennett told Cyclingnews after his visit to the podium.
"I had nine days of antibiotics up until this week and I've just finished. I didn't really know what to expect but it's coming out of my system now so today was a good day."
Bennett made his Tour de France debut last month for Bora-Argon 18, and the race was a baptism of fire for the sprinter. He was forced to abandon in the second half of the race but took a huge deal of confidence from his ride. Despite the morale-boost and the experience gained Bennett, has come into the Arctic race with a slight question mark over his health. At least after stage 1 he is aware that his competitive edge hasn't been lost.
"During the Tour I damaged something and was urinating blood. I got an infection from that and I also had a virus, which made me pull out of the race. A week after the Tour the infection came back so that's when I had to start on antibiotics.
"To be honest when I came out of the Tour I was on real high. Then a week later I hit the wall and I was so tired. I got a lot of experience from it though and hopefully I've got some form."
Stage 2 of the race from Evenskjer – Setermoen is the stage best-suited to the sprinters, unlike stage 1 the finish is flat and Bennett should feature once more.
"I really don't know what the stage will be like but I'll see how it goes and hope I can get the best result possible. You think it's flat here but then it's all up and down and it tears the legs off you. I'll target every stage that I can though. I want to get as many results as I can before the end of the season."