SAM BENNETT SURVIVED a bumpy finale to burst into the world top 10 on the penultimate day of cycling’s Road World Championships on Saturday.
The 21-year-old continued his excellent recent form when he finished 10th in the men’s U23 road race, won by Alexey Lutsenko of Kazakhstan.
France’s Bryan Coquard took second, pipping Belgium’s Tom van Asbroeck to the line in a frantic bunch sprint after more than four hours of cycling.
One of four Irish riders in the race, Bennett was tipped as a strong contender despite a knee injury which forced him to retire early from the Tour of Britain this month.
He was well in contention inside the final kilometre but the Carrick-on-Suir man was boxed out and very nearly brought down in a messy dash to the finish.
Sean Downey finished 26th, Philip Lavery was 32nd while Antrim’s Jack Wilson did not finish.
Afterwards Lavery paid tribute to the Irish fans who turned out along the 177-kilometre route in the Netherlands, particularly on the tricky Cauberg climb.
“The Irish fans on the Cauberg today were amazing,” he tweeted. “Thank you to everyone , great ride by Sam sean and young jack.”
Ireland’s senior trio Nicolas Roche, Daniel Martin and Ronan McLaughlin compete in the men’s elite road race on Sunday.