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Sam Bennett fined for shouldering in crash-marred Paris-Nice sprint

LA CHATRE FRANCE MARCH 10 Arrival Toon Cruyt of Belgium Doctor of Team Deceuninck QuickStep Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Crash Injury Michael Mrkv of Denmark and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the 78th Paris Nice 2020 Stage 3 a 2125km stage from ChalettesurLoing to La Chtre ParisNice parisnicecourse PN on March 10 2020 in La Chatre France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Sam Bennett crashes on stage 3 at Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Sam Bennett missed out on the sprint in Paris-Nice on stage 3 after crashing with Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation) in the final metres of the 212.5km stage to La Châtre on Tuesday. The Irish champion needed four stitches to close a gash in one of his right fingers but avoided any fractures in the incident.

Race officials fined Bennett 800 CHF and docked him 40 UCI points citing incorrect behaviour after he appeared to have shouldered other riders in the final sprint. 

Bennett moved into position in a hectic and aggressive final kilometre behind and to the right of Caleb Ewan, shouldering Hofstetter out of the way. Hofstetter tried to shoot up between Sunweb's Cees Bol and Ewan, but the Australian closed the door. Hofstetter then touched wheels and careened right, hooking his bars into Ewan's rear wheel and sending himself and Bennett smashing into the barriers on the side of the road. 

Ewan managed to remain upright but unable to contest the sprint won by Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain McLaren) ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

"I lost some skin and needed those stitches, because when I went into the barrier, I hit the metal part, but luckily, everything else seems pretty OK," Bennett said in a press release. 

"In the beginning, as I was lying on the road and there was a bit of shock, as I had no idea how serious it was, but it's a good thing nothing is broken. I will continue the race and start Wednesday's individual time trial. I'm quite happy it will be a short stage tomorrow and I hope things will turn around for me at some point."

On Twitter, Hofstetter retweeted two videos of Bennett shouldering first Nairo Quintana and then himself out of the way, writing "no comment", while Ewan Tweeted, "Perfect job by my guys today getting me into position for the sprint! Unfortunately some guy tried to hitch a ride with 300m to go and that was my sprint over."

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