Sean Bennett braced for ‘fireworks’ at debut Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Young Californian supports Qhubeka-Assos captains Domenico Pozzovivo, Simon Clarke, Fabio Aru in his first-ever 'Doyenne' on Sunday.

Sean Bennett is waiting for the long fuse to burn.

The Californian will make his Liège-Bastogne-Liège debut Sunday and is braced for the race to go off with a bang.

“It hilly! Up and down the whole time, no rest, not a flat bit of road more than a few kilometers long in the final, so I think it’s going to be fireworks in the end,” Bennett told VeloNews after a team recon of the final phase of the Belgian monument.

Bennett has raced both Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne this week in what is his first season with Team Qhubeka Assos. The Hagens Berman Axeon graduate joined the squad from EF Pro Cycling in the winter and has rapidly slotted in as a key domestique.

Although the 25-year-old has found his climbing legs after appearances at Amstel and Flèche, he knows that the attritional 260 kilometers of Liège will make for an altogether different experience.

“I’ve been here doing the Ardennes for the last week. Liège is 60km longer than the other ones so I’m expecting it to be harder, more duration. We rode the final 90km yesterday and it’s going to be really difficult,” Bennett told James Startt. “The directors were saying it’s different to the other racing, there’s not as much fighting as the other Ardennes races. It’s just about legs. If you have the legs you’re there, if you don’t, you’re not there.”

Team Qhubeka-Assos has been enjoying a strong start to the year since reconfiguring from NTT Pro Cycling in the winter.

Giacomo Nizzolo won La Clasica de Almeria in one of the first races of the season, and placed second at Gent-Wevelgem last month. Elsewhere, Michael Gogl and Simon Clarke both landed in the top-10 at Strade Bianche while enduring veteran Domenico Pozzovivo is hitting his stride ahead of his 15th Giro d’Italia.

Clarke and Pozzovivo will join Bennett for Liège on Sunday, along with climbing talents Sergio Henao and Fabio Aru.

“Sergio and Domenico have both previously achieved top-10 results here [at Liège] and Simon has a lot of experience at this race,” said sport director Aart Vierhouten. “We have the quality of depth and experience together with some younger guys, and the excitement of Fabio Aru, who will be racing his first ‘Doyenne.’ This gives us a good balance to take on the race with positive ambitions.”