While Jumbo-Visma’s objective was achieved on the fourth stage of Paris-Nice as team leader Primož Roglič claimed the stage win at Chiroubles and with it the yellow jersey, the Slovenian’s teammates revealed that their tactics for the day changed in the finale.
“The original plan was to protect Primož on the steep parts of the final climb and for him to go for the stage win in the uphill sprint to the line,” Steven Kruijswijk explained just after the finish. “But the team had to work harder earlier in the stage and Primož decided to change the plan because he knew all of his rivals would be waiting for him to attack near the end.”
Moments later, George Bennett provided a little more insight into the tactical switch. “The team had to use me a lot earlier than we wanted to. I was meant to be near the front coming into the sprint [3k from the finish], but the nature of the race meant that I was already pulling on Mont Brouilly [the previous climb],” said the Kiwi.
“Luckily, Stevie was still there, and I guess he set it up for the attack from Primož. We had to use everyone today, we really had to use all the boys. But luckily everyone was good. It was just great teamwork really, perfectly executed in the end.”
Bennett admitted he isn’t yet close to his best this season. “I’m creeping a little bit,” he said at the finish. He added that a recent training camp in Tenerife had not only suggested this, but also underlined Roglič’s excellent condition.
“He’s insane,” Bennett stated. “I was the worst guy on that camp and it was pretty scary watching those boys train and seeing what he was doing at the same time. I’ve never seen him so good, if I’m honest. I think this is the best he’s ever been.
“I’m glad he showed the world today that it’s not just training form. It translates, and he’s just such a special rider. I’m happy he’s on my team.”
Bennett also confirmed that he still feels a little banged up after his high-speed crash two days ago, the impact that day hard enough to split his helmet.
“It definitely hurt a bit more than I thought. But when you hit the ground at full speed, it’s not gonna make you go faster. Fortunately, my head’s fine and that’s the main thing that, obviously, other people were worried about. No memory loss, nothing like that.”
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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