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Irish sprinter Sam Bennett will return to Bora-Hansgrohe, the team he turned pro with in 2014 and left after the 2019 season. The German team also announced the signing of a sprint train with Dutchman Danny van Poppel, Irishman Ryan Mullen, and Bennett’s long-time lead-out Shane Archbold from New Zealand. The four riders signed a contract for two seasons.
“I am very excited about returning to Bora-Hansgrohe,” Bennett said via a team press release. “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 [in 2019], but I decided I needed to continue my professional and personal development in a new environment.”
Bennett joined Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2020 and the first year of his contract with the Belgian team was a successful one. He won two Tour de France stages and the green jersey. The relationship between team manager Patrick Lefevere and Bennett went sour after Bennett had to skip the Tour de France due to knee pain. Lefevere publicly questioned the Irishman’s honesty and said he doubted whether Bennett actually had knee pain or was suffering from fear of failure.
Last weekend Lefevere even called Bennett the pinnacle of weakness for returning to Bora-Hansgrohe [after allegedly being bullied on the team in 2019] and compared him to a woman returning to an abusive husband.
Bennett himself stayed silent throughout the entire time his team manager was publicly lashing out. Today he spoke out for the first time.
“While some may have questioned my decision at the time, I believe it is the right move for me to return to Bora-Hansgrohe,” he said. “I have enjoyed two great years at Deceuninck-QuickStep, my boyhood dream team, and have continued my development both on and off the bike whilst making lifelong friendships. However, I feel ready to go back home to be the team leader that I want to be, and know Bora-Hansgrohe also wants me to be.”
Bennett gets a dedicated sprint train at the German team where Peter Sagan, Maciej Bodnar, Juraj Sagan, Daniel Oss, Erik Baška, and Pascal Ackermann have already announced they will leave.
“We’ve selected three incredibly talented riders to work by my side,” Bennett explains in the team’s press release. “Ryan Mullen is a superb time triallist and has always impressed me with his strength when we raced together for Ireland. Shane Archbold is one of the world’s best and most experienced lead-out 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. The four of us have different strengths and we believe the amalgamation of our skills will make for a very competitive sprint train.”
Bennett has not been announced by Deceuninck-QuickStep for any races in the remainder of the season. He has been suffering with a knee injury since a training accident prior to the Tour de France. He is confident he will overcome this and be back to his best.
“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,” he said. “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.”