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More than four months since Sam Bennett last rode a race for Deceuninck-QuickStep, the team has named him to its lineup for the upcoming Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and Gooikse Pijl.
The 30-year-old Irishman last raced for the Belgian WorldTour squad at the Volta ao Algarve. He was slated to race this year’s Tour de France but was scratched from the Deceuninck-QuickStep roster with a knee injury. Team manager Patrick Lefevere, however, would later call out his own team’s star sprinter, questioning whether Bennett not racing was due to “fear of failure” and criticizing him for what he deemed inadequate communication with the team.
In August, Lefevere said that Bennett would need knee surgery, ending his season, but Bennett then raced for Ireland at the European Championships earlier this month, reinvigorating Lefevere’s ire. Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad last week that he was attempting to reduce Bennett’s salary in accordance with UCI rules regarding lengthy periods away from racing.
Now, Bennett is apparently set to return to competition for Deceuninck-QuickStep. The team named him to its lineups for the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, which takes place on Friday, and Gooikse Pijl, which takes place on Sunday, both UCI 1.1-rated events. A Deceuninck-QuickStep spokesperson confirmed to CyclingTips that the team expects Bennett to race both events.
Dutch speedster Fabio Jakobsen, who won three stages at the recent Vuelta a España, is set to lead the team in both races, with Bennett’s expected role being less clear at the moment.