Sam Bennett fears he may also miss out on Vuelta a España after Tour de France snub

FRANKFURT AM MAIN GERMANY MAY 01 Race winner Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Bora Hansgrohe meets the media press at podium after the 59th EschbornFrankfurt 2022 a 185km one day race from Eschborn to FrankfurtamMain WorldTour on May 01 2022 in Frankfurt am Main Germany Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images
Sam Bennett has had a tough season back at Bora-Hansgrohe (Image credit: Getty Images)

Sam Bennett is maybe not one to ever be utterly calm, but at the Tour de Pologne the Bora-Hansgrohe racer certainly seems pretty chilled at the moment.

The fraught sprints of the first two days? "If you put that many egos into a race, including myself, it's always going to be a bit messy," Bennett half-jokes with a grin. 

The return to racing after missing out on the Tour for a second year running? "I'm just looking forward," he replies affably enough. 

His chances of riding the Vuelta a España, his first Grand Tour since 2020? "It’s possible."

You might be thinking that Bennett is looking at the long game with such a series of answers. But there's also a case for saying that he's too focused on getting a good result in what is a formidable line-up of sprinters - not to mention staying out of trouble - to be worried about what might be coming up or what's gone on before.

The first, fraught sprint on stage 1, with a big crash late on, saw Bennett nearly come down in a separate incident, but stay upright, "though I have no idea how," he says. Then on Sunday he was in the mix until much closer to the finish, but didn’t quite have the form to turn the day’s fifth place into something even better.

"Yesterday [stage 2] was a chaotic sprint but there are so many sprint trains here, so many sprinters... I don't know how many sprinters are here but if you put that many egos into a race, including myself, it's always going to be a bit messy," he told Cyclingnews before stage 3.

"So yesterday [Sunday], even though there were more corners and stuff, it did string it out a bit more so it was just a normal chaotic sprint. But quite enjoyable."

Bennett's own condition, he says, is improving, but not quite where he wants it.

"I'm getting there," he says, "I felt on Sunday I wasn't exactly myself yet, I lacked something in the final. Maybe the first day I had a bit more, but yesterday [I asked myself] 'did I do a few too many accelerations, to get a good flow to the line?'

"But it's nearly there, the sensations are more normal, I can feel it's coming, but it could be just that one per cent, it clicks and it's there. It's taken a while, but it's not far away."

Tour and Vuelta

This summer, the Bora-Hansgrohe sprinter was one of the victims of Bora-Hansgrohe's decision to up their focus on GC contender Aleksandr Vlasov in the Tour, leaving him out of the selection.

Bora themselves recognised that not taking part in the Tour de France represented a setback for Bennett, with sports director Rolf Aldag telling Cyclingnews that "if he wasn't disappointed, it would be very weird". But rather than dwell on that, Bennett says that his essential goal now is "to get a stage here and move forward".

However, beyond Pologne, his race schedule is still up in the air. "It's not super-clear," he says. "I'll do the European Champs and see what results come of that." 

Although he'd like to do the Vuelta, he confirms he may again suffer from the team's renewed GC focus with Higuita and perhaps Jay Hindley, although it's not yet clear if the Giro d'Italia champion will be going for the overall as well or have more of a support role for the Colombian.

Which brings us back to Pologne, a country he's not raced in since doing the Junior European Track Championships: "I won but I can't for the life of me remember where it was," he says with a grin. And for focussing on the task at hand, he's certainly able to count on great back-up.

"I've got good support here, Jordi [Meeus], Ryan [Mullen] and Shane Archbold, and they've been getting better and better throughout the year. They were phenomenal from the start, but the experience is growing. So it should be good." 

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.