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Bennett cleared to leave Bora, likely to join Quick-Step

The Irish sprinter cleared up a contract dispute and is hoping to find a team that will allow him to race the Tour de France

An ongoing contract tussle has been resolved, opening the way for emerging sprinter Sam Bennett to leave Bora-Hansgrohe. The Irishman is expected to join Deceuninck-Quick-Step.

On Thursday, Bora-Hansgrohe confirmed Bennett will depart the team, resolving a contract dispute that dated back months.

“Over the last six years, Bora-Hansgrohe developed Sam Bennett into one of the best sprinters in the peloton. Against this background, it however became more and more difficult to align the team’s and rider’s goals,” a press statement read. “Therefore, Bora-Hansgrohe’s management has decided to accept Sam Bennett’s wish to leave and continue his journey with another team.”

Bennett has been angling to leave the team for months. Holding him back was a dispute over whether or not he was under contract with Bora-Hansgrohe. According to sources close to the deal, Bennett had not signed a final contract to renew with the German team, but officials from the team insisted that he had agreed in principle to terms for an extension. Lawyers got involved and after weeks of wrangling, the sprinter is finally cleared to accept offers.

He is expected to join Deceuninck-Quick-Step, which is looking to fill the void left by the departing Elia Viviani, who moves to Cofidis.

Bennett, 29, won 13 races in 2019, including two stages at the 2019 Vuelta a España. With Peter Sagan remaining at the center of Bora’s plans, Bennett’s desire to race the Tour de France with Bora was complicated.

Bennett began his career with Sean Kelly’s An Post team in Ireland before joining NetApp-Endura in 2014, which a year later evolved into Bora.

If Bennett does eventually join Quick-Step, it will mark quite a bit of turnover at the Belgian team going into 2020. Joining Viviani for the exit door include Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), Max Richeze (UAE-Emirates), Eros Capecchi (Bahrain-Merida), Enric Mas (Movistar), Fabio Sabatini (Cofidis) and Davide Martinelli (Astana). Several young riders join Quick-Step for next season, including American Ian Garrison (Hagens Berman Axeon).