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George Bennett derailed by freak ice sock mishap at Tour de l'Ain

LLEX FRANCE AUGUST 11 George Bennett of New Zealand and UAE Team Emirates attacks during the 34th Tour de lAin 2022 Stage 3 a 131km stage from Plateau dHauteville to Llex 904m TDA22 on August 11 2022 in Llex France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
George Bennett at the Tour de l'Ain (Image credit: Getty Images)

George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates) finished the Tour de l'Ain in seventh place overall, but he was left to rue what might have been after a freak mechanical accident involving an ice sock.

Bennett crossed the line alone on stage 2 of the three-stage race on Thursday, 44 seconds down on the winner in what was a disappointing outcome to a day he'd lit up with an earlier attack. 

UAE Team Emirates' report of the race detailed how Bennett had hit out on the day's penultimate climb with 24km remaining but indicated that "he would later pay for these efforts and become unhitched" as he trailed across the line. 

That didn't quite tell the full story, as it emerged that Bennett had in fact been held up by a mechanical incident. He'd been using an ice sock - more specifically a thin nylon tight filled with ice cubes stuffed down his jersey - to stay cool in the 35-degree temperature. 

Once empty, it fell and became stuck in his rear derailleur, jamming his drivetrain and forcing him to stop and change bikes at a crucial moment.

After losing time, Bennett rebounded with an attacking display on the final stage of the French stage race. 

He rode away from the yellow jersey group on the second of two ascents of the Col de Menthières and, despite being caught after the descent, attacked again in the finale and slipped clear with Harry Sweeny to take third place on the stage behind solo winner Antonio Pedrero. 

Bennett was clearly going well and was left to rue what might have been had he not suffered his misfortune. 

"I really enjoyed this race. I felt good but I’m a bit disappointed with the result," Bennett said. 

"I had some bad luck when I got something caught in my rear derailleur in the last big climb and I wasn’t able to make back the time today but these things can happen. 

"I still enjoyed racing here with a good group of guys who helped me a lot on every stage."

Bennett tested positive for COVID-19 before stage 10 but quickly returned tortacing and showed his summer form. He is expected to be a key part of UAE Team Emirates Vuelta line-up alongside Marc Soler, João Almeida and Juan Ayuso.

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