Sam Bennett only had himself to blame for relegation in Stage 9 of La Vuelta. That is the view of Bennett’s friend and mentor Sean Kelly, who said the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider was always going to be punished for his shoulder barges on Emils Liepins during the run-in to the finish of the stage.
Bennett crossed the line first, but it was his rival from Bora-Hansgrohe Pascal Ackermann who was eventually awarded the stage.
“I think Bennett will have to keep his shoulders to himself,” Kelly said with a smile.
He will be back to get revenge, he’ll not be happy at all this evening. We’ve seen the owner of his team Patrick Lefevre not happy.
“Losing to Ackermann as well, that’s going to be a sore one to swallow for Bennett because we know the history there with Bora and Bennett last year trying to get away from that team.
“Sam will be hopefully not too aggressive tomorrow at the final and I think the way he’s going it’s difficult to see anybody beating him.”
Kelly says the decision was always going to be made when the images of the manoeuvre were shown on the overhead camera.
“I think it was a decision that was always going to be given when we see the overhead shots,” Kelly said.
“It’s the same rules for everybody. If it’s somebody like Sam Bennett or a new guy on the block, you cannot do that and get away with it.”
‘No way he was going to get away with it’ - Kelly breaks down why Bennett was relegated
Ackermann might officially have won the stage, but Kelly says the German will not be happy with his performance on the day.
“You don’t want to win in that way, you want to win straight out and go over the line with your hands in the air, that’s all part of taking the victory. But Ackermann will take it.
'Winning this way won't feel good for Ackermann' - Sean Kelly on Sam Bennett's relegation
“He had no involvement in the incident at all, he didn’t actually see it, he was being led-out by the team-mates," Kelly continued. "They did an excellent job and took it to a place where Ackermann, if he was in better form, would put up a decent sprint. But Sam is much too fast for him, he was in Stage 4 and he was again today.
“We could see when Ackermann came over the line that he was very disappointed that he wasn’t able to put up any challenge against Sam.”