And in the category of damning with faint praise ... fallen Tour de France hero Lance Armstrong has tipped Kiwi George Bennett as a future winner of the great cycle race.

After his 10th-place finish at last year's Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) and victory in the 2017 Tour of California, Bennett has continued to impress in the French classic over the past two weeks, currently sitting in the top 10, with the tough Pyrenees mountains looming.

But Armstrong, who was stripped of seven Tour titles when he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs, has claimed a small amount of credit for the rise of Bennett, who rode on his Trek Livestrong development team in 2011.

Not sure whether endorsement from one of sport's most notorious doping cheats is a good thing, but on his podcast "Stages", the Texan billed Bennett, 27, as a "sneaky" performer in this year's Tour.

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"In any bike race, you have the obvious stories," said Armstrong. "You have the favourites, the leader, the charming stars, but then there's always the sneaky person and George Bennett is the sneaky one.

"Here's a kid who won the Tour of California a couple of months ago and is sitting in 10th. When there was the selection on Cat Mountain - Mont du Chat - he was there.
"He looked good to me."

Bennett entered this Tour de France with modest expectations, hoping to steal a stage win, if the opportunity arose.

Now, halfway through the journey, he has had to reassess that goal, with a high placing in general classification a realistic prospect. He currently sits three minutes 53 seconds behind three-time tour winner and race leader Chris Froome.

"Obviously, guys like Chris Froome can't ride forever," said Armstrong. "But kids like Simon Yates, Adam Yates and George Bennett - oddly enough, three Anglos - they're going to be factors and potential Tour winners in the future."

Armstrong wouldn't even discount Bennett as a force over the next 10 stages.

"We were talking about how great and strong and safe Chris Froome is, but 10th place is less than four minutes behind," he said.

"Four minutes isn't a lot of time - anything can happen."​