Sam Bennett became the first Irish cyclist to win on the Champs Elysees as he secured a famous green jersey at the Tour de France.

Bennett, who rides for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, produced a superb final sprint in Stage 21 of the Tour (known as the unofficial sprinters’ world championship) to extend his lead at the top of the points classification and add gloss to his green jersey win.

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The 29-year-old becomes only the second cyclist from Ireland to win the Tour de France points classification, following in the footsteps of his friend and mentor Sean Kelly.

WATCH – Sam Bennett wins on the Champs Elysees

Speaking on Eurosport after the stage, Kelly said:

Winning on the Champs Elysees is a dream for him. It’s a dream that all sprinters have from the moment you start biking.

“It’s an amazing feeling for me too. You’re more nervous at the end when you’re out there. Family and close friends are really nervous and so was I. My glasses were steaming up at the end because you just get so into it.”

'To do it in green is so special' - Sam Bennett reflects on Champs Elysees win

Seven-time green jersey winner Peter Sagan finished in second place, meaning that Bennett ended a run that had seen Sagan win the points classification in every Tour de France he finished in since 2012.

Points Classification standings

  • 1. Sam Bennett (Ire) Deceuninck-Quickstep - 380 points
  • 2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe - 284 points
  • 3. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team - 260 points
  • 4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels - Vital Concept - 181 points
  • 5. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo Visma - 174 points
  • 6. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal - 170 points
  • 7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck Quick-Step - 150 points
  • 8. Tadej Pogacar (Svn) UAE Team Emirates - 143 points

Emotional Bennett breaks down in tears after winning first ever Tour de France stage

How Bennett won the green jersey

Bennett performed consistently throughout the Tour de France in the intermediate sprints, picking up points throughout and regularly beating Sagan in those hunts for bonus seconds.

But Stage 10 was the key moment for Bennett. His first ever stage win saw him regain the point jersey classification from Sagan with only a small number of sprint stages remaining.

Watch Bennett's winning moment as Irishman takes brilliant stage win

Peter Sagan's relegation for dangerous riding in Stage 11 was another huge boost for Bennett, who initially crossed the line in third place, behind Sagan and stage winner Caleb Ewan.

'There's the shove!' Analysis of the four-way photo finish that saw Sagan penalised

The Irishman still wasn't mathematically certain of winning the points classification going into Stage 21, but made certain in the intermediate sprint and secured it officially when he crossed the line on the Champs Elysees.

What is the green jersey?

For the uninitiated, the green jersey – first introduced in 1959 – is awarded to the leader of the points classification and tends to favour the fast men of the Tour.

But gone are the days when this was a competition dominated by the pure sprinters in the mould of Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish.

Tweaks to the rule book and the meteoric rise of Sagan seemed to have rewritten the blueprint for green. An ability to mop up the daily intermediate sprint points, get in breaks over hilly terrain, and finish consistently high in both bunch sprints and reduced fast finishes appeared to have drawn the curtain on the flat-track bullies.

Watch Bennett's winning moment as Irishman takes brilliant stage win

Last year, Australia's Caleb Ewan was the stand-out sprinter of the Tour with three wins, and yet it was Sagan again, with just the one win, who finished 68 points clear of his nearest rival. In fact, in 2019, Sagan wore the green jersey – which is sponsored by Skoda, a car manufacturer – from start to finish, wearing it for stages 2 and 3 in place of the yellow jersey Mike Teunissen before taking over outright control after stage 3 to Epernay.

He did the same in 2018 after finishing runner-up to Fernando Gaviria in the opening stage; ditto 2014 after Marcel Kittel's opening day win. Prior to the start of the 2020 Tour Sagan had worn the green jersey for 124 days out of a possible 143 for an 87% hit rate.

'There's the shove!' Analysis of the four-way photo finish that saw Sagan penalised

How the points were awarded in 2020

Flat stages: 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3 and 2 points for the first 15 riders (stages 1, 5, 7, 10, 11, 19, 21)
Medium mountain stages: 30-25-22-19-17-15-13-11-9-7-6-5-4-3-2 points (stages 2, 3, 6, 12, 14, 16)
Mountain Stages + ITT: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points (stages 4, 8, 9, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20)
Intermediate sprints: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points

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