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Sam Bennett‘s long-running saga of swapping Bora-Hansgrohe for Deceuninck-Quick-Step finally concludes, with a happy plot twist. Shane Archbold also moves across from Bora-Hansgrohe to the Belgium outfit, both on two-year deals.
Bennett was linked to a move to Quick-Step, but was caught up in a contract tussle that took months to resolve. With favored lead-out man Archbold also part of the package, Bennett said he’s motivated to move to the top Belgium squad.
“It is a daunting task to race for this team, but it is motivating and a challenge, having been with my previous team for so long and I feel refreshed,” Bennett said Tuesday. “It is fantastic to be having Shane here, too. I am delighted for him as he had a few years where he wasn’t getting opportunities, so for us to both be here is special. To have a friend and a work colleague with him, it makes the job easier.”
Bennett 29, was one of the top sprinters in 2019, winning 12 races across the calendar, including stages at Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné and Vuelta a España, as well as winning the Irish national title. His career victory haul stands at 42, and he’ll be under pressure to replace the likes of Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Fernando Gaviria, who left in 2018 for UAE-Emirates.
Bennett was forced to wrangle free of a tentative deal to stay with Bora-Hansgrohe in order to sign with Quick-Step. The contract dispute was eventually settled, clearing the way for the Irishman to join team boss Patrick Lefevere.
“The protracted nature of Sam’s move has been well documented but I am delighted to have him on board,” Lefevere said. “His palmares alone speaks volumes about his talent and determination, but he is also a great character and another leader to have around the team. We all cannot wait to start working with him.”
Archbold was also part of the deal. Close friends with Bennett, Archbold has emerged as the Irishman’s favored lead-out man. With ace lead-out man Max Richeze heading to UAE-Emirates, Archbold and Bennett will likely pair up throughout the season.
“It has been an up and down few years for me and to be able to join them is great for me and I am looking forward to being able to improve and race with what is regarded as the world’s best team,” Archbold said. “Obviously, me and Sam have had a good relationship since 2013 and it will be great to continue that. We have grown as a pair since then and to be able to be part of the progress of a great friend is an honor.”
Archbold and Bennett were teammates at An Post-Chain Reaction as well as for three seasons at Bora before Archbold left to join the ill-fated Aqua Blue team. After the team collapsed in 2018, Archbold returned to Bora early in 2019, helping Bennett take some of his biggest wins.
Even though Quick-Step already has some top lead-out men, including Iljo Keisse and Michael Morkov, Lefevere found room on the roster for Archbold as well.
“We know how important it is for a sprinter to have a lead-out man that he fully understands and has faith in,” Lefevere said. “While we have several excellent lead-out guys already here, when it became clear that we could add Shane to our squad to help Sam, it made complete sense. He is extremely skillful at what he does and is rightly regarded as one of the best in the world.”