Sam Bennett wins stage as Tour de France continues after virus testing

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Ireland’s Sam Bennett won the Tour de France’s 10th stage by less than a wheel’s length after all the riders left in the three-week race were cleared to continue following coronavirus testing.

Bennett, a 29-year-old for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, earned his first Tour stage win, edging fellow sprinters Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan. He also took the green sprinters’ jersey from Sagan.

“I forgot to throw the bike at the line in the moment, and I thought he might have got me,” a tearful Bennett said. “I thought that I’d be in tears, but I’m just kind of in shock.

“You dream of it, and you never think it’ll happen. It does. It did.”

All of the overall contenders, led by Slovenian Primoz Roglic, finished in the same time on the Tour’s flattest stage, the first in history to start on one island and finish on another.

Bennett took a 21-point lead in the sprint standings over Sagan, who owns a record seven green-jersey titles. Sagan is in his longest drought between Tour stage wins since he won zero in 2014 and 2015.

“We are still halfway through the Tour de France, and there are still opportunities to take the jersey back,” Sagan said, according to his Bora-Hansgrohe team.

Less than two hours before the stage started, Tour organizers and the International Cycling Union (UCI) said all of the riders’ coronavirus tests performed on Sunday and Monday returned negative.

However, they announced that director Christian Prudhomme tested positive along with four staff members from four different teams who have been dropped from the race bubble.

The four staff who tested positive work for Cofidis, AG2R La Mondiale, defending champion Egan Bernal’s Ineos Grenadiers and Mitchelton Scott, meaning those four squads were at greater risk of being excluded.

Under the race’s health protocols, anyone who tests positive has to leave the race and any team with two or more positive tests — either rider or staff — within seven days also has to abandon.

Riders and staff are scheduled to be tested again on the next rest day Sept. 15.

The Tour continues with stage 11 on Wednesday, a 104-mile flat day through marshlands that should produce a sprint winner. NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage start at 7 a.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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