Sam Bennett's Tour de France should be applauded, despite the low finish

The 25-year-old finished in last place of all the finishers

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Picture by: Ian Parker / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sam Bennett cycled his way into Irish history books on Sunday afternoon, when he became the tenth Irishman to complete the Tour de France.

The 25-year-old cycled up the Champs-Elysees at the second time of asking after making his debut last year in the race. In 2015, he pulled out of the race after Stage 17. 

Bennett finished more than five hours and 17 minutes behind winner Chris Froome in 174th and last place. Lars Ytting Bak finished more than 16 minutes clear of the Bora-Argon 18 rider in 173rd.

While Bennett's achievement is in start contrast to Dan Martin's (who finished in ninth place), it should not be looked upon lightly. 

A crash at the end of Stage 1 almost ended the sprinter's involvement in the Tour before it even began. The Tipperary native came to the Tour hoping to win one of the flatter sprint stages, but suffered badly in the opening week.

A hand injury meant, he cycled in pain throughout the race. Imagine cycling the Tour de France, while struggling to hold the handlebars? That's what Bennett did.

It should be noted as the field struggled through the Pyrenees and Alps, Bennett's best performances came near the end of the Tour, when he finished 12th on Stage 14 and in ninth place on Sunday on the Champs-Elysees.

Bennett ended up winning the infamous "Lanterne Rouge" for finishing in last place. Although not an official award, it does bring prestige in France, with many winners of the position being invited to races around the country.

While adding his name to the quirky footnote of the Tour de France, Bennett joins the elite of World cycling. A trip to Paris after three weeks of physical torture, puts the Carrick-on-Suir rider into a realm mere mortals never dream about.

The two top-12 finishes show what the sprinter is capable of, when healthy. 2017's race has the potential to be a very special three weeks for Sam Bennett.