He may have just created history, as the first Kiwi to take out a tour on cycling's world circuit, but Nelson's George Bennett still has his feet firmly on the ground.

Bennett, 27, is celebrating victory at the seven-stage Tour of California, one of the key build-up events towards the Tour de France, but he has already warned not to expect similar heroics from him during the European classic in July.

"This is a big step and I know I'm going to the Tour de France, that's my next race," he told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch. "But I also know I'm not going there to ride for the overall [title].

"I'm actually intentionally going to lose time, try to win a stage and just go with the breakaways."


Such is life on a professional cycling team, where one day you can be riding for victory, but on another, you're helping someone else pursue their moment of glory.

This week, in California, Bennett's LottoNL-Jumbo outfit were riding for him, getting him among the leaders on stage two, guiding him safely to the top of the Mt Baldy mountain on stage five and protecting his lead over the final 125km run into Pasedena on Saturday.

But team management have a very different plan for France, where Bennett's individual aspirations become secondary.

"In the Tour de France, we're going with a sprinter and we're going with a climber, so every day, we're just attacking it in some different way."

In the background, Bennett is also keenly aware that most of the world's top exponents were not in California and many are currently grinding it out in the three-week Giro d'Italia, the first of this year's three Grand Tours.

"This is a big win and it's the world tour, so it's special, but ... it's not like I'm the best tour rider in the world or anything. There are a lot of guys that weren't here."

And if he needed another reminder of his place in the grand scheme, Bennett got it when he was offered a Lexus car as part of his prize for winning the US event. He took the cash equivalent instead and divided it among his team.

"I don't take any of the prizemoney from this," he told Veitch. "I split it among the team-mates for all their hard work and sacrifice all week - that's how it works in cycling and I'm quite happy to do it.


"Besides, I ride my bike around and I've got a pretty sh***y [Toyota] Caldina in the shed - that does me fine."

Ironically, the crucial stage in Bennett's success was all his own work, as he tore up the 24km time trial on stage six to snatch the yellow leader's jersey and build a 35-second advantage for the final day.

"I thought the only way I could win it was if I took time on Mt Baldy and we took time on a lot of guys, but there were still three of us racing for the win at the end.

Kiwi George Bennett rides in the peloton on stage seven of the 2017 AMGEN Tour of California. Photo/Getty Images
Kiwi George Bennett rides in the peloton on stage seven of the 2017 AMGEN Tour of California. Photo/Getty Images

"After that, I was a bit dejected. I knew it was still possible that I could maybe hang on, but I definitely wasn't confident that I could win."