After his rhythm was disrupted by letting another rider onto his lead-out man's wheel on stage 1, the Irish champion made a stronger bid for victory on Monday, but was eclipsed at the line by Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan.
A stiff headwind was blowing down the finishing straight, making it dangerous to hit the front too early. Seven-time green jersey winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) certainly made that mistake, and while Bennett waited a little longer and struck out with a clear lead, he was ultimately overhauled by the low-profile Ewan, who stunningly weaved his way through his sprint rivals from further back.
"It's always guys who are looking for my wheel and can't go first, so I just gave the guys another lead out," a despondent Bennett told reporters in Sisteron.
"It was just a headwind and it was easy for someone to come off the wheel, so yeah," lamented Bennett.
Asked if there was anything he could or should have done differently, he replied: "No, no. I think it was just a matter of luck."
After a disappointing opening-day sprint, Bennett had hoped to make it a dream couple of days for Deceuninck-QuickStep, with Julian Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey after winning on stage 2. The Belgian team controlled the peloton from start to finish, before a chaotic lead out saw Team Sunweb and Bora-Hansgrohe launch the sprint.
"The guys provided a great lead out, but the headwind was really strong and made it easy from somebody in the back to come off the wheels," Bennett later said on the Deceuninck-QuickStep team website.
"I didn’t have the best legs, but I wouldn’t change anything. I think it’s a matter of luck and hope that I’ll have some reasons to smile soon."
Bennett later congratulated Ewan on social media, writing: "Close but no cigar, great sprint by Caleb Ewan. Congrats buddy."
Bennett will have to wait for his next opportunity to take a first Tour de France stage win, as the race heads for the mountains. Stage 7 could well end in a bunch sprint, but stage 10 is the next clear-cut opportunity.
Close but no cigar, great sprint by @CalebEwan . Congrats buddy 🤜🏻August 31, 2020
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