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Sam Bennett returns to Bora-Hansgrohe on two-year contract

Irish sprint star returns to the team that helped to launch his professional cycling career following a two-year spell with Deceuninck-Quick-Step.

Sam Bennett will return to Bora-Hansgrohe for the 2022 season after signing a two-year contract. The big Irishman previously rode with the German squad — formerly NetApp-Endura — from 2014 to2019.

The super sprinter has spent the past two seasons with Deceuninck-Quick-Step where he won stages at Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia. His biggest success was winning the green jersey at the 2020 Tour de France in addition to victory in stages 10 and 21.

Also read: Mark Cavendish in, Sam Bennett out for Deceuninck-Quick-Step

“I am very excited about returning to Bora-Hansgrohe. I had six incredible years with this team and I really feel like I grew up as a pro rider during this period. It was a really difficult decision to leave, but I decided I needed to continue my professional and personal development in a new environment,” said Bennett.

“I want to thank the staff of Deceuninck-Quick-Step for a great couple of years. There are a lot of people that I will miss and I wish them all the very best for the future.”

Bora-Hansgrohe boss Ralph Denk recognized Bennett as an asset whose return to the team fills a void created by the departure of Peter Sagan and Pascal Ackermann at the end of 2021.

“I’m very pleased that Sam is returning to us. We’ve been together for several years, he turned pro with us and we developed him into one of the best sprinters in the peloton,” Denk said. “We have clear goals with Sam and I am confident that with our support he will be able to achieve several victories over the coming years.

“He is undisputedly one of the very best sprinters in the world and has proven this by winning the green jersey at the 2020 Tour.”

Joining Bennett on the 24-month stint will be Danny van Poppel, Shane Archbold, and Ryan Mullen. Archbold, a New Zealand track racer, is a sometimes-leadout man for Bennett. Van Poppel, too, will take on a significant role in setting up Bennett for wins.

“We have also put together a strong sprint train for him. Danny in particular will play a pivotal role. As a sprinter, he has both the experience and the speed to place and impose himself accordingly in fast finishes,” Denk said.

Even though the role is new to him, I have every confidence in him. Shane has also been with us for many years, so we know his strengths. And Ryan has the fast pace necessary to keep the other guys in position ahead of the final kilometer.”

Strained relationships at Deceuninck-Quick-Step

Bennett was left off of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step Wolfpack’s Tour squad for 2021, in part due to some health concerns. In his absence, Mark Cavendish earned his second green jersey and tied the career Tour stage-win record of 34 previously set by Eddy Merckx.

Bennett relationship with the Belgian squad has become fractured in recent weeks with team manager Patrick Lefevere questioning whether or not the Irishman was actually injured. He also described Bennett as being the “pinnacle of mental weakness” and likening his return to Bora-Hansgrohe to “women who still return home after domestic abuse”.

Lefevere’s comments have been widely condemned by the cycling world, though Deceuninck-Quick-Step and its sponsors have not made any comment.

Also read: Cycling world condemns Patrick Lefevere’s comments about mental weakness

Bennett has kept silent on his soon-to-be former boss’ comments and said that he is still recovering from the knee injury he suffered during training in June.

“Currently I am still dealing with the knee injury which forced me to miss the Tour de France, but I am confident I will overcome this small setback and get back to where I want to be soon — winning races. Injuries are part of life, I’ve had them before and have overcome them, this is just another hurdle to conquer on life’s journey,” said Bennett.

Bennett recognizes that the makeup of the Bora-Hansgrohe squad is not the same as when he left for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, but is eager to embrace a leadership role. He is also keen to work with new teammates, as well as continuing on with riders familiar with the Irishman’s sprinting style.

“I know the team will have a slightly different roster than when I left, but the core group of people who are responsible for the team’s successful environment remains. I am ready to embrace the role of a team leader, to help drive the team forward so we can win together,” continued Bennett. “Shane Archbold is one of the world’s best and most experienced leadout men and a rider whose knowledge of bunch sprinting is only surpassed by his own sprint speed.

“He is the rider I have raced alongside the most even before my pro-career. It goes without saying that Danny van Poppel is an immensely successful sprinter himself and it is rare in cycling for a rider to be so capable of reading a race that he never finds himself out of position even in the most competitive bunch sprints.”