Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) was one of eight riders to abandon La Vuelta ahead of Stage 10's individual time trial as Covid continues to rip through the peloton.
The Irishman - as confirmed by his team on social media - was a late withdrawal after returning a positive antigen test prior to Tuesday’s 30.9km dash from Elche to Alicante. He is the 12th rider to leave the race due to Covid.
Bennett wore the green jersey throughout the opening week after his double triumph on Stages 2 and 3. And although he was subsequently usurped in the standings by Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), he was only five points back.
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He has won stages at all three Grand Tours, with his triumphs in Spain ending a two-year drought in cycling’s biggest stage races.
Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) also withdrew after testing positive for Covid along with Jose Herrada (Cofidis), Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar) and Lotto Soudal riders Harry Sweeny and Jarrad Drizners.
Hayter held the white jersey in the young riders’ classification during the opening four stages, playing a domestique role before his withdrawal.
Meanwhile, Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) and Floris De Tier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) have abandoned due to illness and saddle sores respectively.
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