Sam Bennett won the International Performance of the Year at the Cycling Ireland Annual Awards on Saturday night.

The 28-year-old from Carrick-On-Suir was among 14 award winners as feats in cycling, both domestically and internationally, across road, off-road, track, and leisure was marked at the event in Dublin.

Bennett first took to the stage to collect one of six Special Achievement awards given to members of High Performance teams that have excelled in 2018, then moments later was revealed as winner of the night’s final award: International Performance of the Year.

Winning these awards tonight is an acknowledgement of the results I have been trying to achieve for 10 years" said Bennett.

"I moved away from home when I was 18 years old, and there have been times since then when I didn't think I could do it.

"To see the support I have had through that from Irish cycling and from everyone in the room is amazing, and for that I'm very grateful."

In May, Bennett became the first Irish cyclist to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 31 years.

It was his first Grand Tour stage win and he would go on to win two more sprint stages, bettering Stephen Roche’s Irish record of two stage wins at the same Giro.

"I’m fighting for my Giro spot for next year. There’s pressure with other riders in the team, but I feel I deserve my spot. I’ve been consistent in the race now for two seasons. If that is my plan, I think I can start at San-Remo."

Matching Bennett for wins on the night was 17-year-old trail-blazer Lara Gillespie, crowned the Cycling Ireland Female Rider of the Year, and taking a High Performance Special Achievement award.

In August, Gillespie took Gold at the European Junior Track Cycling Championships in the Points Race, just days after earning silver with a new Irish record in the individual pursuit, adding those international successes to the 11 national titles she already holds - across track, road and cyclocross.