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After missing much of the second part of the 2021 season due to a knee injury, Bennett has been fighting to find the form that has seen him claim more than 60 wins during his career.
With a growing number of big race days in his legs, Bennett believes that a win is just around the corner. He’s still far from his top form but he’s hoping that if he can get into a sprint then luck a result will eventually come to him.
“I’m hoping in the next two or three weeks that I can get a win. In sprinting you don’t necessarily have to be the strongest, so hopefully when you put yourself into the position each time, eventually one will go your way,” Bennett told VeloNews.
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Bennett will race Scheldeprijs on Wednesday before going to the Tour of Turkey later this week. Both races should provide him with plenty of opportunities to test himself in the sprints as well as adding to the racing miles he needs.
Bennett has been seen getting dropped off the back of the bunch when the pace picks up more often this season. However, the challenge for him is not just about making it to the finale for the sprint — something he has managed quite a few times this year — it’s about doing it with enough energy to contest it.
At the moment, Bennett is using up so much energy to make it that he’s completely gassed by the time he gets there. He’s hopeful it won’t be happening for much longer.
“I got pretty far into Gent-Wevelgem I just blew up with about 50 kilometers to go so I got about 200 kilometers in the legs,” he said. “Most of the time, I’m getting to the sprint, I’m getting into a good position but I’m after blowing up so I can’t actually when the 200-meter sign comes. It’s getting there, I shouldn’t be too far away from it now.”
Bennett picked up his knee injury in the buildup to last year’s Tour de France and saw him sidelined from racing for four months. He competed in a handful of races at the end of the season, including the European championships and the Irish national championships, but never really got going again.
The layoff meant he contested just 28 days of racing in 2021 and he says it is that dearth of competitive riding that has led to his struggles this year rather than any lingering issues with his knee.
“The right knee has been fine since last September, so everything is perfect,” Bennett told VeloNews. “I just lost a lot of time last year so it’s just natural that it takes time to come back and I’m having to come from zero to top-level again. Of course, I can come back, and I can race in the race but to be at the pointy end is what’s taking time.”
Despite the struggles, Bennett’s morale is still quite high as he continues to make progress in his form. Getting a win in the pocket would make him feel a whole lot better, though.
“It’s all good. I’m really enjoying cycling after the big break. It’s quite nice. It was frustrating not to be racing but I’ve got a good group of lads here now and the morale is good in the team. It would just be nice to get some reward for our efforts with a victory or two,” he said.