Tour de France hero Sam Bennett will not defend the Cycling Ireland Road National Championships title he won last year.

The Tipp man took the glory in June 2019, denying Eddie Dunbar in a thrilling finale in Derry. It was the first time Bennett won the title.

However, he won't be at the starting line in Limerick for this year's edition. The action will get underway behind closed doors with the individual time trial for all categories, including paracycling, on Thursday.

The men's senior, U23 and junior road race takes place on Saturday, followed by the women’s senior, masters and junior road race on Sunday.

"Unfortunately I will not be able to defend my title this year at the Irish National Championship due to goals set out by myself and my team for the remainder of the season," Bennett posted on Instagram.

"I am also trying to limit the health risks of traveling. It was my dream to wear this jersey at some of the biggest cycling races in the world.

"I always tried my best to represent it to the best of my abilities. After 25 podiums, 11 of which were wins (2 Tour de France, 2 Vuelta a Espana), 3 points classification jerseys including the Tour de France green jersey, my last race as Irish National Champ was a win on the Champs-Élysées wearing green.

"A perfect end to my time as Irish National Champion."

Bennett won on the Champs-Elysees ten days ago after securing the green jersey on the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris. 

It made him the first Irishman to win a major jersey at one of the three Grand Tours since Sean Kelly won green at the Tour for the fourth and final time in 1989.

Watch highlights of the Cycling Ireland Road National Championships on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player this Monday 5 October from 7pm