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Bennett lifts to seventh in California

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/05/2016
George Bennett competes in the Tour of California. © Doug Pensinger/Getty Images George Bennett competes in the Tour of California.

New Zealand cyclist George Bennett improved two places on the final day to place seventh in the Tour of California.

Bennett eased up the the general classification after finishing five seconds down on stage winner Mark Cavendish (Britain) in the closing stage in Sacremento.

Cavendish, riding for South African outfit Team Dimension Data, edged Slovakian Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in a mass sprint for the line to take the 136km stage in 3hr 01min 12sec.

Riding for Dutch team Lotto NL-Jumbo, Bennett's consistency over the eight-day race meant he finished 1min 50sec behind tour winner Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step).

Frenchman Alaphilippe successfully defended the yellow jersey he seized on stage three, winning general classification honours in the 140-strong field 21sec clear of Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).

Bennett sat third for much of the tour, but dropped six places after the stage six 20km time trial around the streets of Folsom on Saturday.

The 26-year-old told that he hadn't really raced since the Paris-Nice classic in March, with illness also dogging him during a brief stint at the Tour of the Basque in early April.

The only other New Zealander in the Tour of California, Patrick Bevin (Cannondale), finished well down the overall standings in 81st place, 1:05.05 down on the yellow jersey.

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